Practice: A Problem Black
© Mike Stooke Historical Notes
We've all done this, played for the black, and left the cue-ball somewhere close to the position shown.
If the cue-ball wasn't so central you could either play thin off the black to take the cue-ball towards baulk, or play a simple shot to just knock the black gently to the top cushion, but each of those can be difficult when using the extended spider over the reds.
Another option, for tall players, is to reach over, and with your bridge-hand in mid-air, play a simple tap to the black.
Perhaps the safest option is to play off the side cushion as if you were snookered, but instead of simply trying to hit the black, why not try to pot it? There's only a slim chance of success but little danger if there are no easy reds near either of those two top pockets.
Imagine though that there is a red, somewhere near the black cross, that doesn't cover the pocket, but might easily be left for your opponent. In this case attempting the pot may still be a worthwhile option. If you don't pot the black you may cover the red or move it, or you might leave the black between the pocket and the red. So you have four possible outcomes that could each be beneficial.
The diagram also shows two loose reds, one near the middle pocket and one close to the pink. You could easily leave those on if you tried to pot the black in the corner pocket on that same side of the table. So consider the possible after position of the cue-ball, and try to make the pot on the side of the table that leaves the cue-ball in the safest area.
Taking that into consideration means there's less chance of leaving your opponent an easy starter, but of course if you pot the black you'll probably find you only have a safety shot left. But you should then be able to play a better safety than you could have originally.
Oddly enough, with the cue-ball and black in the positions shown, or very close to the positions shown, they are in almost the perfect positions to attempt this pot. Being only a few inches away from each other it's often easier to find the angle than if they were further apart.
Should you try this, make sure you strike the cue-ball exactly in the centre, even a tiny amount of side will change the angle the cue-ball takes from the cushion.
This is an easy position to set up for practice, even if you only have a few moments to spare between frames if your opponent is away from the table.
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