Practice: Snookers - how to play them.

Snooker Cue

There are so many ways to play a snooker that it would be impractical to show them all, or even attempt to. So here is some basic advice and a few examples. The first can be a problem even for the very best players yet can be played quite easily - when you know how, even if you've never made a break over 30. Another is sometimes seen on television. It looks far more difficult than it really is, but should be within the capabilities of those who can make 50+ breaks.

A deliberate miss-cue to drop behind the yellow Playing a gentle tap from direction "A" when the balls are so close can be awkward even for the the very best players. The fear of making a foul stroke, either by a push shot or by playing so gently the cue-ball doesn't reach the object-ball can make even the professionals twitch on these delicate shots.

But play the shot sideways, from direction "B" and the shot is simple. You only need to ensure that the tip "overlaps" the cue-ball by a smaller distance than the gap between the two balls.

This way it's impossible to play a push shot and you have the added benefit of being able to cue freely. Obviously it's a deliberate miss-cue, and you'll only need a few practice shots to learn how much strength to use when playing these.

A word of warning though, in amateur competition the quality of refereeing isn't always too high. So ask the referee to stand opposite you, directly in your line of aim, to make sure he can see what happens.

If the referee is at the other end of the table, maybe 14 or 15 feet away, he may not see the cue-ball move and call a foul!

Snooker No 1 A simple snooker is shown in this diagram, but even this can be played badly. It's so easy just to play the red straight and stun the white. But if the red stops before it hits the second cushion, or shortly afterwards, you'll leave an easy escape.

To make this snooker as difficult as possible you need to leave the cue-ball right behind the yellow. So create a small angle, in this example shown by aiming at the black cross, and play the shot as a stun run-through.

This now leaves a very nasty snooker for your opponent. The easy escape route has been cut off, and at least one cushion in baulk must be struck to get the cue-ball around the table.

By leaving the red away from the cushion it makes it far more difficult for your opponent to judge the angles, so the strength you play the shot is critical. If your game isn't quite up to this yet then spend a little time practicing the strength of the shot to control where the object-ball stops.

Snooker No 2 Imagine though that your opponent has just played this shot and left you with the problem of escaping from this snooker.

Playing off the baulk cushion is probably the safest choice even though cueing is a little difficult over the yellow.

You may find it helps to stand behind the red and imagine you are playing the shot the other way round, red on to white, as some find this a useful way of finding the point on the cushion they'll need to aim at.

Once you have found the line of the shot, from red to white, bring this imaginary line back to where it would contact the cushion, shown in the diagram by the hollow red. When you cue up to play the shot you can use this point as another marker to check your aim.

It's so easy to accidentally put side on the cue-ball when your playing down on it. So make sure the centre of the tip is directly below the highest part of the cue-ball. Then you can be sure you are striking centrally and imparting no side that could ruin the shot.

Snooker No 3 This snooker is far more advanced but when the balls are somewhere near the positions shown is not as difficult as it looks.

When the cue-ball and red give a half-ball angle to send the cue-ball more or less parallel to the side cushion, you only need a little side to pull the cue-ball back from the natural return off the top cushion so it returns to baulk and drops behind the green.

The strength needed to drop behind the green is obviously critical and good cueing is essential. Play the shot with top and right-hand side and vary the position shown slightly to gain greater knowledge. You'll find many variations of this type of shot appearing all over the table.

The Jimmy White fans among you may remember him playing one of these perfectly during his 10-4 first round win over Stephen Hendry in the 1998 World Championships.

Snooker Cue