Practice: Snookers - how to escape from them.

Snooker Cue

An email from David Bridger gave an insight into one method of escaping from a snooker. His method and others are explained below.

Years ago, I learned that you can almost always hit a snookered ball with the cue ball if you do the following:

Assuming the cue ball and object ball are the same distance from one cushion, go to the spot at that cushion where the object ball is 90° to the cushion. Then hold the tip of your cue very close to the object ball and set your finger on the cue where the cue intersects with the inside edge of the cushion.

Now holding your finger at that spot on the cue, pull the cue back (keeping it at 90° to the cushion) until the tip is exactly at the inside edge of the cushion.

Now sight a line from the cue ball to the tip of your finger and make careful note of where that line would touch the inside edge of the cushion between the cue ball and your finger on the cue.

If you can hit that spot on the cushion with no english, you will hit the object ball. If the cue ball and object ball are not the same distance from the cushion, you have to adjust the spot to hit. More toward the cue ball side if the cue ball is closer to the cushion.

Have you experienced this and have I remembered it correctly?

David Bridger

Snooker Escape No. 1 Yes, you have remembered this correctly. Your system measures the lines A and B from which you find your line of aim to the cushion.

Clearly A and B must be of equal length and your use of the cue confirms this. But for the method to be accurate the cue-ball needs to strike the cushion at an angle of about 45° or more, as it then rebounds from the cushion immediately. At shallower angles the cue-ball tends to slide off the cushion and leaves at a slightly smaller angle than it arrived, making this method less reliable.

An example of this is shown on the left of the diagram.

When the object-ball is well off the cushion this can work well and those new to the game may find this useful - but you are not allowed to mark the table. If you do it is one of the few occasions where a foul can be called without a ball being struck, and would receive the highest penalty of seven points. So a more practical method has to be found.

Snooker Escape No. 2 Many players imagine a mirror image of the table, and aim at where the object-ball would be on that table. The advantage here is that the two balls don't need to be the same distance from the cushion. You simply imagine the "mirror" ball and aim towards it.

Another advantage is that you always imagine this mirror image from the playing position, making it much easier to find your line of aim to the cushion.
With practice it becomes fairly straightforward and you should quickly become quite accurate.

Obviously success depends on how carefully you play the shot. Stay down on the shot and keep your eyes fixed on your point of aim until the cue-ball has hit the cushion. Only then should you look away to see if you've hit the object-ball.

Snooker Escape No. 3 On many occasions there will be more than one way to escape from a snooker so it's important to choose the one that gives you the greatest chance of success. Four obvious escape routes are shown for this snooker.

1  This is the easiest angle to judge as both balls are within your line of sight. There's a reasonable chance of pushing the red safe and you might even get a snooker in return.

2  This is second best. You're less likely to hit the blue than you are from the other side of the table, but there is a chance of pushing the red towards the corner pocket.

3  Even if you miss the blue a thin contact may push the red towards the middle pocket and it also gives a natural angle for an in-off into the corner. If you strike the red full ball you may double it towards the opposite corner.

4  The most dangerous. There is a great danger of hitting yellow or blue and even if you hit the red you may send it towards one of the two top pockets.

Shows how by playing into the cushion, with side, can get you out of an "impossible" snooker. An Impossible Snooker?   No, just slightly awkward!

Play the stroke with left-hand side and aim towards the black cross. The cushion-rubber will compress just enough to let the cue-ball out without disturbing the black, and the cue-ball will rebound from the top cushion to make contact with the blue.

Even if the cue-ball wasn't trapped and you were free to play across the table, this might still be the best way to escape from the snooker. By playing into the cushion you are able to place your bridge hand freely on the bed of the table, and you won't be faced with difficult cueing over the edge of the cushion.

This type of shot deserves some practice but you will find it takes very little before you can judge them quite well.

Snooker Escape No. 4 While waiting for their opponent to return from the bar or telephone many players practice potting the three baulk colours from their spots.

Here is something you may find more useful.

Place the cue-ball so it's touching the green, and try to hit the pack of reds. Play this stroke with screw and right-hand side and aim as shown.

Studying the course the cue-ball takes from cushion to cushion will increase your knowledge of the angles, and give you reference points that will be of great use when you're faced with a similar position in actual play.

Vary this routine by placing the cue-ball behind the brown and yellow, and remember to stop the cue-ball to save re-racking the reds!

Snooker Cue