Trick Shots, Fancy Shots, and Catch Bets
From "Billiards" by W Cook, published 1891
14. A good puzzle is, to place two balls nearly close together, say an inch apart, and the other ball in front of them, about another inch off. Then you have to make the cannon without touching any of the balls with anything whatever, and you must not blow them.
This, like every other puzzle, is very easy when you know how to do it. In fact, like Columbus breaking the egg, there is nothing in it. You take a pin or a needle and raise the cloth slightly under your ball, when it will of course roll on to the other two.
15. To balance one ball on the top of three. When the balls are perfectly new and polished this is almost impossible. When, however, they are a trifle worn, it is not so difficult. The difficulty is to overcome the smoothness. Let the three bottom balls all touch. Then chalk your hand, and, so to speak, dip the other ball in it to make it chalky. You will now be able to make it balance on the other three.
16. To balance one ball on the top of another. This is perhaps more difficult than the above. Again, if the balls were absolutely perfect, it would be impossible; but then, nothing made is absolutely perfect. The weak point in every set of billiard balls is the spot. Take the spot ball and bang it down on the table so that one spot is touching the table and the other spot up. With a steady hand, you will find that with a little patience you will be able to balance the other ball on the top of the spot ball. If there is the slightest dent where the spot is you will find it easy.
17. To drop a ball off the bottom cushion on to the table and not let it run out of baulk. Some people will puzzle over this after they have tried ineffectually to do it. Put your finger on the ball and give it a spin back as it drops, pressing it against the cushion. It will then, after going a little way, stop dead short, and sometimes it will even stop and run back. The principle is just the same as that of throwing a child's hoop in front of you with a spin, which causes it to run backwards.
18. A stroke that can scarcely be called a fancy stroke can be done by placing two balls close together over one of the corner pockets in baulk, and then placing a sixpence on one of the balls. The stroke is to play out of baulk all round the table off three cushions, and make the cannon without knocking off the sixpence.
It is purely a question of strength and knowledge of the angles. You play from about the middle of baulk, just above the middle pocket. It is not bad practice for strength. It is a common thing for men who fancy the shot to bet they do it once in twenty times. It is long odds against doing it.
19. A very effective stroke is made as follows. Place two balls on the baulk line an inch apart, and the inside ball an inch from the side cushion. Place your own ball touching the cushion on the opposite end of the baulk line. Now play with your hand or with a hat and make a cannon.
This is really an easy stroke. Take your hand, and pressing your ball against the side cushion, draw it quickly back. Your ball will run up the table and hit the top cushion about a foot from the top corner pocket. The side which you will have imparted to the ball will make it go across the table, and if it does not cannon you will go very near it. Indeed the stroke is much more easy than it looks.
This stroke can be played with an ordinary black tall hat. You must take two hands to it. The hat must be in tolerably good condition. If it has arrived at that time of life when it cannot be put on by the brim without taking two hands to it, it won't do.
20. There is one more stroke which may be called a catch stroke, but it scarcely deserves the name. Put two balls over the middle pocket, in a line with the other middle pocket. Place them in this straight line as near the pocket as you can. Then place your own ball in the same straight line, about four feet off- i.e., about two feet away from the opposite middle pocket.
Now play at the two balls and put them both in. It looks very easy, but you will probably fail unless you know how. You will naturally think that the best way to do this is to hit your own ball high, so as to follow on and send the ball in. Of course the one nearest the pocket must go in every time, as it is a dead plant.
Try the stroke first hitting your ball high, and see how many times you do it. Then play as follows. Play on to the ball a stab shot, so as to stick your ball dead. You will now find you put both in every time.