Topic: Monthly blog on Snooker with all the trimmings!

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Steve Waterman (Savoy Snooker League) | Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In response to richard’s request, and with his blessing, I would like to post a monthly column which I hope will generate some discussions and raise more awareness to this excellent site. Each month I will post a general blog about snooker in general, but also post a teaser snooker question, and a practice drill. It would be great to get feedback from everyone on how they got on with the drill and also whether they can answer the question. So, Here goes…..

February 2008

Like all the people who use this website, I am a keen snooker player, and like I am sure most players on this website, I feel I am a better player than my league position/highest break indicates. This is the same for everyone in my league and I am sure it is yours too. This is why we play. We honestly believe that the more we play, the better we will get. Although this is true to a certain extent (practice makes perfect says the old adage ) there is a limit where repetition and practice cannot replace natural ability. Like golf, where only 10% of golfers have ever broken the 100, Snooker keeps us addicted with the promise of our best break and the belief that we will surely get better and more consistent the more we practice.

My highest break is 87 which was three years ago. How many times have I had the opportunity to match or exceed this only to miss a simple pot, or lose position? Ive lost count. Why is this? Because that’s snooker! Unless you are a seasoned professional or are lucky enough to have the natural ability mentioned above, every break requires an element of luck. A glancing kiss here, a kind bounce there. And worse, how many times has our opponent had that lucky break or kiss to continue a break! It seems, far more often than us! We only seem to remember their flukes, not ours!

What I have found now is that I am no longer getting nervous when the break gets to 50. Before I ever made a half century this seemed like the holy grail, and whenever I got close, my arm tensed up and the break would fail. But once I hit 50 barrier it was like a weight lifted. I would like to think that I won’t get nervous when my next break of 60 + occurs…. but as it hasn’t happened for a while, so I guess I wont know until it happens!

We play in a small league of 12 players, and although a friendly league, the competition is enough to change our usual free flowing snooker into a battle of wits, and shot selection is often key to winning or losing frames. Go for the risky pot, or play a safety? Every shot is different and requires un to concentrate fully. For that reason I believe that any break over 50 in a competitive league is something to be very proud of.

We are approximately half way through our league of 22 games and the highest break to date is 61. The Owner of our snooker club puts up a prize of the equivalent pounds to points for the highest break. Surprise Surprise the highest break is his! You can only imagine how much we want to beat this break!

Ok, that’s enough for this month but I hope you enjoyed an insight into my views on snooker. I would love to hear your comments, good or bad, and also how you get on with the practice drill and teaser.

March Practice Drill

Set the colours up on the table in reverse spot sequence as follows:

Black Spot - Yellow
Pink Spot - Green
Blue Spot - Brown
Brown Spot- Blue
Green Spot- Pink
Yellow Spot- Black

Place the cue ball anywhere on the table and pot the colours in the correct sequence. When you pot the pink ball, respot all the colours, then pot the black to gain position on the yellow ball, and continue to pot the colours starting from the yellow again. If you miss you start again from the initial position. See how many time you can pot all the colours.

My personal record on this is twice through the colours and then up to and including the blue (a break of 68).

This exercise will force you to concentrate on position far more than potting the colours in sequence as usual. Gaining position on the next colour is not a natural shot and therefore the “standard” positional shot cannot be employed.

Pleased post your best result to the forum and remember, potting all the colours 4 times is a century break!

March Teaser – Think you know the free-ball rule???


Only the 6 colours remain on the table and the player is awarded a free ball on the yellow as he is snooker by the green. The Yellow ball is over the corner pocket but the player cannot see it because the green is in the way. The player selects the green ball as a free ball and plays the green ball into the yellow ball.
The yellow ball is potted and the green continues it’s path and is also potted.


1. What foul or points are awarded ?
2. What should happen to the Yellow/Green and White ball ?

Answers will be published next month!
Neil Fairbrother (Stafford & District Snooker League) | Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My understand is that four points are awarded to the striker, the green is respotted and the yellow is not. The striker will then continue with the break in trying to pot the green.

Correct me if I'm wrong, I didn't look it up, so wrongness is a possibility if my rule knowledge is a bit flaky.
James Godden (Savoy Snooker League) | Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hi, In the rules of snooker the Free Ball rule is stated as

10. Snookered After a Foul
After a foul, if the cue-ball is snookered, the referee shall state FREE BALL (see Section 2, Rule 16).
(a) If the player next in turn elects to play the next stroke,
(i) he may nominate any ball as the ball on, and
(ii) any nominated ball shall be regarded as, and acquire the value of, the ball on except that, if potted, is shall then be spotted.
(b) It is a foul if the cue-ball should
(i) fail to hit the nominated ball first, or first simultaneously with the ball on, or
(ii) be snookered on all Reds, or the ball on, by the free ball thus nominated, except when the Pink and Black are the only object balls remaining on the table.
(c) If the free ball is potted, it is spotted and the value of the ball on is scored.
(d) If a ball on is potted, after the cue-ball struck the nominated ball first, or simultaneously with a ball on, the ball on is scored and remains off the table.
(e) If both the nominated ball and a ball on are potted, only the ball on is scored unless it was a Red, when each ball potted is scored. The free ball is then spotted and the ball on remains off the table.
(f) If the offender is asked to play again, the free ball call becomes void.

So the only difference is that the striker is awarded 2 points not 4 see (e)
Richard Ormiston (Stafford & District Snooker League) | Posted on Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thanks Steve for kicking this discussion off. What interested me was what you said about tactics – “the competition is enough to change our usual free flowing snooker into a battle of wits, and shot selection is often key to winning or losing frames. Go for the risky pot, or play a safety? Every shot is different and requires us to concentrate fully”. I moved to Prague, Czech Republic two years ago and discovered last summer that they have a league. As a keen player I was delighted and quickly joined up. I was amazed how seriously they take the game here, for example I had to wear and borrow a waistcoat when I got to the division 2 final in October

I had never worn or owned a waistcoat in my life. I played a guy who plays pool for the Czech Republic, he was a great potter but like the great majority of players here he lacked the experience of good shot selection i.e. when to play safe. As he went for every pot, probability mean’t he let me in. The guys here have not ever heard of the English saying “It’s not what you get, but you leave”. I think with time they will stop going for so many pots, as its only 19 years since the end of communism and the country has been opened up to such a western game as snooker.

For me it’s very funny, I’m nothing special in England, my highest break is 88 and in a match 47, but because I have played for 19 years my shot selection is generally better than the rest of the guys here. But I do hold my hat off to the Czech’s, the league has only got 50 players and whenever there is a final, a crowd always turns up to watch, unlike a league I played back in England, and everything is well organized and enthusiastic. I recently got to a national final (and lost) a few weeks ago and it was televised. I sat in front of the tele last night and watched myself for 40 minutes, it was quite strange. Another thing which is good and bad in the Czech League is that they play the best of 7 frames. I had always played 1 frame back in England, and everyone knows that anything can happen in 1 frame. I am now free to pursue higher breaks as you are not so concerned about loosing a frame. But at the same time, the recent tournament I played was 27 frames over a 4 day period; I was knackered by the end.

But I am pleased, as a result of getting to the final I will get to play 1 of 4 professionals coming to play at Sparta Praha in front of 1200 people (also televised) next Friday. Steve Davis, John Higgins, Shaun Murphy and Ryan Day will be coming. There is also a VIP party back at their hotel afterwards, so looking forward to chatting over a few drinks with such stars!

So if anyone wishes to become a snooker star then move to the Czech Republic, but not too many as I will not have a chance!
Steve Waterman (Savoy Snooker League) | Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Monthly Snooker Blog

Snooker drives me mad sometimes!
Why oh Why can I not play well all the time??? My snooker ranges from the amazing to the damn right awful – quite often in the same evening. I watch the snooker on the telly and think “I could have potted every all in that 147 clearance” but I know that I couldn’t have got every position right or played with such consistency. I find that sometimes I go to the club and I can see every angle naturally and don’t have to think about the pot, only the position. Other times I can have a just off straight pot and have no idea where to hit the ball. Perhaps it’s the preparation before the match, or maybe its “just one of those things”. Either way it drives me mad!

As our season draws to a close we once again come down to the difficult issue of Handicapp allocations. In our league we have 12 players of varying abilities.
Our matches consist of 7 frames played in a 7-Up 7-Down format. This means that each time a frame is won, the opponent gets an extra 7 points at the start. At the start of each season we allocate a handicap to each player. As we are now in our 4th year we are getting closer to the correct handicap for each player but it seems that it is always the better players who hog the top 4 places. I am sure that there are many ways of allocating handicapps but I wonder whether there is a formula out there which we could apply. I would be very interested to hear how other leagues determine the handicapps.

Pocket Sizes
I have read in the rules of snooker that the pocket sizes “Must Conform to WPBSA regulations” but does anyone know what they are? In our club we have two tables with very generous pockets. We also have a few tables with very tight pockets. Some of the tables will take a ball along the cushion at pace whilst others you know that you have to play the shot dead weight for them to go in. Any idea anyone?

Snooker Teaser
The white ball is potted in error and the referee places the cue ball on the baulk cushion.

1) The player to play next picks the white ball up and whilst attempting to place it in the “D” drops it. The cue hits the green ball first and then the cloth.

2) The player to play next picks the white ball up and whilst attempting to place it in the “D” drops it. The cue hits the cloth and then the green ball.

3) The player to play next picks the white ball up and whilst it is in his grasp, touches the green ball with the white when attempting to place the white.

4) The player to play next picks the white ball up and places it in the “D”. He then touches the green ball with his cue whilst attempting to manoeuvre the white.

In each case, should the cue ball be played from where it lands, or is it ball in hand? Should the green ball be replaced or left where it has landed?

Practice Drill
Pot the black as may times as possible from it’s spot. Place the black on it’s spot and position the white anywhere on the table. Pot the black, then replace it and pot the black again from where the cue ball has landed. See how many times you can do this. This drill will help you concentrate in and around the black spot. The record In our league is Stuart Dadd with 27 pots.
Graham Sheridan (Stafford & District Snooker League) | Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Hi Steve

can't say that I know a great deal about handicapping, but would have though that with your handicaps ranging from scratch up to maximum of 28 having the +/- 7 adjustment based on the result of each frame plays into the hands of the better players - especially (and I mean no offence here) if the players on 21/28 are struggling to win frames before the adjustment kicks in.

Handicapping is difficult, not merely because of the situation you describe in your first paragraph!

Neil Fairbrother (Stafford & District Snooker League) | Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On teh subject of handicaps, i'm going to bring up cuefactors again. I'm not sure how many people are fimilar with Cuefactor, but it was started recently by an ex pro (Neil Tomkins), and works off a similar principle as golf handicapping. it takes into account your highest break, highest break in the last eyar, and your recent frame scores (you input these on the website). We've started using it in our club and it's a proper leveller. Not least because no-one can complain about their handicap, as it's been generated scientifically!

Go to and take a look.
Steve Waterman (Savoy Snooker League) | Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Neil - Funny you should mention cuefactor. We looked at it briefly last year but did nothing about it. Perhaps next season we should start recording the frames scores (we only record the result as win/loss in frames). I think thats a great idea. I will suggest it to our league players and next season record the scores. Is there anything else you can suggest we record about the matches? With your cuefactor handicapp do you use the up/down seven principle?
Neil Fairbrother (Stafford & District Snooker League) | Posted on Tuesday, March 4, 2008

You'll need to record the following:

The player's score
The player's highest break in the frame
Whether the player won or lost the frame

The system will then give each person an individual handicap number (or Cuefactor). For example mine is currently 50 (I'm not a great player). If I were to play someone whose Cuefactor was 60, I'd get 10 start, there's no 7 up/down, the start is the difference in Cuefactors, the better players have higher Cuefactors.

Each time you play a frame, you input the above data into the system and the Cuefactor adjusts accordingly.
Stewart Fletcher (Stafford & District Snooker League) | Posted on Friday, March 7, 2008

I've been searching the web about the size of pocket openings and this is what I found out...

They all vary apparently. That's all that is given, no approximate sizes, or average sizes, just that they all vary.

...but it's not to do with the cushions being longer or thicker or anything, it's to do with the slate, how big it is and how far into the pocket it actually goes. This, apparently, is what determines how tight/lenient pockets are.

Anyone find anything more useful?
Steve Waterman (Savoy Snooker League) | Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Thanks Stewart. I have finally got my table setup at home. A 20 year dream finally realised. My table pocket openings are 3 1/4 inches between the cushions where the slate ends. This is 1/4 smaller than "standard" which is 3 1/2 inches. Also the slate goes quite a distance into the pocket openings which like you say makes them tight. But the beauty is that you can still play a shot firmly down the cushion and the ball will pot (if you are accurate). At the moment it is quite demoralising to play on but it can only improve my and my friend's games!
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