Q & A: Answers

Snooker Cue

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Posted on 28th 2001 June by Steve Rogers of Orpington, Kent.

Is there a correct or best size for the cue tip. They come in different sizes, but what is best? I tend to feel more confident with a very small tip, say 8mm. Is it a good idea for me to continue or would a larger tip be more responsive.

Although tip size is a personal matter, there are certain aspects that should be considered. One is that as the diameter gets smaller, so does the depth, and with less material within the tip to begin with, it will wear away quicker than a larger one of say, 10 or 11mm. You will find yourself changing the tip more often, and by the time it's "broken in" will almost be ready to change again.

A wider tip would be thicker and last much longer, allowing you to play more consistently. This is important if you play competitively - you don't want to change your tip just before an important match.

Many of the big manufacturers dislike going down to 8mm due to the problems in construction. A cue which has had too much of the shaft removed to taper down to an 8mm tip is liable to be a little too "whippy" and vibrate far more than one with a thicker shaft. This could affect your accuracy in power shots.

The only advantages of the smaller tip are that it's slightly easier to see where your striking the cue-ball; and that due to less material, there is less of a cushioning effect between the wooden cue and the plastic ball, and so more power can be transferred with less effort. But strength of shot is (probably) less important than accuracy, and several of the top professionals use over-sized tips which are not flush with the cue.

As to which size tip is more responsive, any spin that is applied to the cue-ball is created by pushing the cue through, so it could be argued that a larger tip with a larger surface area would have more "grip", and so create more spin.

Posted on 17th June 2001 by Neil Connolly of Dublin.

Every time I play snooker I always get kicks when the cue ball hits the object-ball. How do I stop this, it is really annoying and I don't know what I am doing wrong.

The most likely cause of a "kick" is a tiny particle of chalk, on either ball, that gets crushed when the two balls meet. This prevents a clean contact and a "kick" occurs.

Even though most "experts" agree on the above cause, little can be done to prevent them. If they were easily prevented you can be sure they would never be seen during the televised events.

Apart from playing on tables that are regularly brushed and ironed, try and find out how often the balls are washed. They can get greasy with too much handling. This is a common problem in busy clubs where eating is allowed at the tables. The staff often don't have the time or the instructions to wash each set regularly.

Posted on 12th June 2001 by Donal Hill of Portstewart, N.Ireland.

I'm looking for advice on cue ball control, especially on how to swerve the cue ball.

The cue-ball is made to swerve by raising the back of the cue and striking the cue-ball off-centre.  Play the shot as a 'stab' without too much follow-through of the cue, and don't play with too much power - you must allow the spin you give to the ball time to take effect.

To swerve just a little, say half-an-inch or so, over a distance of around 4 to 5 feet or more, you shouldn't need to raise the back of the cue more than 7 or 8 inches. For more swerve, raise the back of the cue higher, and apply a little more side - but not too much, or you become more likely to miscue.

Practice at first with just the cue-ball on the table, and place it close to either top corner pocket. Aim to strike the cue-ball on the right-hand side, and with the cue pointing directly at the blue spot.

Play this a few times to get the feel of the shot, and watch the cue-ball so you can see the path it takes. Play this at different strengths and with varying amounts of side-spin, then do the same again using the pink spot.

Just 20 or 30 minutes practice will teach you how much swerve you generate and how much to allow for this when you aim. When you can play the stroke consistently and with reasonable accuracy, you'll be ready to use the stroke against your opponents.

The swerve shot is now covered within the Tuition section.

Posted on 12th June 2001 by Shahin Ahmed of Oldham.

When I take a shot the path I want the object ball to go, it does not go that way. What am I doing wrong. And could you please give me some tips on how to set the next shot up.

You are clearly not striking the object-ball accurately enough to send it in the direction you intend.

During every stroke you play, keep your body as still as you can, and concentrate on the cue brushing your chin as you push the cue through to strike the cue-ball. Keep your eyes fixed on the spot where you have aimed the centre of the cue-ball to be when it strikes the object-ball, and you will see if you have hit it where you intended.

You must see where you have struck the object-ball, as this is the only way that you can learn to aim accurately. If you have struck the object-ball where you aimed, and miss the pot, you'll know that your aim was wrong. Practice seriously and over time your ability to judge the correct potting angle will improve.

The best "tips" I can give you on setting up the next shot (without filling several pages!), are to read everything you can on the game, websites and books, or perhaps try one of the various instructional videos that are available.

Posted on 5th June 2001 by Steve Rogers of Orpington, Kent.

If you are bridging over say the blue ball to play a red and you strike the red OK, but you accidentally knock the blue ball forward with your hand, what would the foul be (I assume five points)?, and would the blue ball be replaced to where it came from or left?

In the example you give the blue ball would be left in the position where it came to rest. The penalty for the foul would indeed be five points.

Posted on 30th May 2001 by Andrew Nickinson of Weymouth.

I'm only new to the game of snooker. When I put side on the cue-ball (lets say right-hand side), will the object-ball be effected.

Also, where can I get snooker lessons in Dorset?

The top professionals of every generation have argued both for and against this theory.  The best answer I can give you is to say that if any side is transmitted from the cue-ball to the object-ball then it must be too small an amount to have any practical use in the game.

For coaching in Dorset, try the GreenBaize Snooker Club, at Wallisdown in Bournemouth. Tel: 01202 525061.

Posted on 28th May 2001 by Rachel Evans of London.

Could you tell me what the rule book actually says about the miss rule and why players and referees seem to have problems over it. Also, in what situations would the cue ball be replaced after a foul or a free ball be awarded?

"The Billiards & Snooker Referees' Handbook" by John Street and Peter Rook (now back in print) takes 14 pages to explain the "miss" rule and when the cue-ball would be replaced. So quite apart from the copyright laws I simply couldn't include what it actually says here.

The free ball rule is far less complex, and one would be awarded when, after a foul stroke, the next player was unable to hit both sides of the ball "on" by a direct stroke.

Posted on 28th May 2001 by Paul of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I have a big problem with my snooker skills. Somehow I am able to build a good break (50 points or more) during solo practices but not during a game with another friend. Can you please advise me on this?

It may be that you find it easier to concentrate during solo practice but cannot repeat this against your friend. When playing any opponent you may find it helps your concentration to talk yourself through each shot (silently, not out loud !).

Tell yourself exactly what you are trying to do, where you're aiming on the object-ball, and where you need to strike the cue-ball to achieve the desired position. This will concentrate your mind on each individual shot, and help to cure your problem.

See also the reply posted to Robbie Gardner on the 6th March.

Posted on 26th May 2001 by Steve Rogers of Kent.

If you pot a nominated colour and the cue ball goes in as well, is the colour respotted or does it stay down?

The colours are always respotted if a foul is made in the same stroke. The reds however, are never respotted, except when balls are replaced after a Miss.

Posted on 19th May 2001 by Steve Taylor of Ipswich.

Could you please tell me the best way to execute a 'jump shot', where the cue ball is lifted over a ball blocking the path of the target ball?

Are jump shots considered as legal shots?

Jump shots are now illegal in snooker and cannot be used to escape from a snooker.

They are of great use in trick shots however. Raise the back of the cue and play down at the cue-ball. Play the shot with a stabbing motion, and as the cue-ball is squeezed between the tip and the table it will leap as it escapes from the pressure. To make the ball jump higher keep raising the back of the cue or use more strength.

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Snooker Cue