clash royale hack pixel gun 3d hack mobile legends
HomeAbout Billiards DigestContact UsArchiveAll About PoolEquipmentOur AdvertisersLinks
Tips & shafts
By George Fels
Consulting Editor George Fels has been writing for Billiards Digest since 1980, and his "Tips & Shafts" column is usually our readers' first stop when they crack open the magazine. For better or worse, pool has been his only mistress for 40-plus years.

• September 2017
• August 2017
• July 2017
• June 2017
• May 2017
• April 2017
• March 2017
• February 2017
• January 2017
• December 2016
• November 2016
• October 2016
• September 2016
• August 2016
• July 2016
• June 2016
• May 2016
• Apr 2016
• Mar 2016
• Feb 2016
• Jan 2016
• December 2015
• November 2015
• October 2015
• September 2015
• August 2015
• July 2015
• June 2015
• May 2015
• April 2015
• March 2015
• February 2015
• January 2015
• October 2014
• August 2014
• May 2014
• March 2014
• February 2014
• September 2013
• June 2013
• May 2013
• April 2013
• March 2013
• February 2013
• January 2013
• December 2012
• November 2012
• October 2012
• September 2012
• August 2012
• July 2012
• June 2012
• May 2012
• April 2012
• March 2012
• February 2012
• January 2012
• December 2011
• November 2011
• October 2011
• September 2011
• August 2011
• July 2011
• June 2011
• May 2011
• April 2011
• March 2011
• February 2011
• January 2011
• December 2010
• November 2010
• October 2010
• September 2010
• August 2010
• July 2010
• June 2010
• May 2010
• April 2010
• March 2010
• February 2010
• January 2010
• December 2009
• November 2009
• October 2009
• September 2009
• August 2009
• July 2009
• June 2009
• May 2009
• April 2009
• March 2009
• February 2009
• January 2009
• October 2008
• September 2008
• August 2008
• July 2008
• June 2008
• May 2008
• April 2008
• February 2008
• January 2008

Best of Fels
March: Model Trains
March 2008
I DON'T KNOW if this was the case in your era, but in mine, when you got your first set of model trains for Christmas, your father and all your "uncles" - whether actual relatives or just friends whom you had to call that - swooped down and commandeered your wonderful trains for themselves. "No, don't touch that," they advised urgently as your fascinated fingers reached out for the transformer or, God forbid, the engine. "You'll get hurt." And on and on they would play with your new trains, all the while bearing the smiles of the recently lobotomized.

Pool has always been a similar perception for me: a kids' game where the adults have all the real fun. (Actually, the game was invented centuries ago for royalty, not kids, as an adaptation of lawn croquet. But how old were you when you learned to play? 30?) This year's Derby City Classic blurred the lines between the two considerably, notwithstanding that these days, just about everybody is a "kid" to me. There were more youngsters under 18 playing for fairly serious dough than ever before. Some bluenoses might find this lamentable, but I do not. Pool is what pool is, especially at the DCC, which is specifically structured to allow anyone to do anything legal that he or she cares to. If the highly visible cops who patrolled inside the hotel nightly had no problem with their gambling, why should anyone else?

For me, the most fascinating aspect of the '08 DCC by far anyway was Jay Helfert's innovation, The One-Pocket Challenge: players ponying up $50 each for five tries at breaking and running as many balls into a single corner pocket as possible, with cumulative score.

Among the world's finest 1-P players, only the immortal Efren Reyes failed to compete. (He is said to be having health problems, and does himself no favors in that regard by going around toothless. As he approaches his mid-50s, he cannot be expected to improve. But don't write him off just yet.) The roll call included names such as Joyner, Parica, Pagulayan, Hopkins, Deuel, Frost, and Schmidt - all players with whom you would avoid serious action as though it were the plague. And yet the seemingly innocuous format brought most of them to their knees.

First there was the matter of how to break the balls. Simply blasting them open a la rotation or 8-ball won't work; you want to minimize the number of object balls that pass the side-pocket line, and you'd also like to get some balls orientated to your pocket of choice. Allen Hopkins utilized a soft break with outside (rather than the customary inside) English, delivering the cue ball to the center of the table with the balls partially open. Scott Frost used (and taught Mika Immonen) a breaking technique with low-outside spin that brings the cue ball off the side rail on a path roughly parallel to the short rail. Unlike Hopkins' choice, this break puts the cue ball smack in the middle of congestion, only with more balls open. Hit it at exactly the right speed - that's a must - and you have an easy entree to your run. Over-hit or under-hit it by just a skooch, and suddenly you're a miner trapped in a cave-in.

And almost as much fun as watching the event played was watching the players. Unless a player practices this very drill - and some players do regularly - this is a new thinking process, and I've always found it fascinating to see an expert suddenly stumped. While animosity does surface now and then between 9-ball players, that rarely takes place among one-pocket competitors. This is the deepest-thinking of all the cue games, and it frequently attracts a different class of guy. Just about every one of the game's finest players had a dandy time razzing his peers and enjoying their discomfiture (or cheering them on, as the case may have been). "No! No!" Corey Deuel shouted gleefully, as Alex Pagulayan tried some hopeless flier after tying himself up six ways to breakfast. "You should have taken a foul!" (Pagulayan would have his day in the regular 1-P competition anyway, coming from 0-7 down in the hill game against none other than Reyes and running out from behind the string! The DVD of this match, and Freddy Bentivegna's new and peerless instructional set "Banking With The Beard," are the must-sees of '08.)

"Playing the ghost" at straight pool is obviously far less of an aberration; the very structure of that game not only accommodates but encourages long runs. But in conventional one-pocket, games are lost far more often than they're won. In most racks, competitors test offense gingerly, like a lake in the early spring, with at least one eye open to shutting the opponent out in case of a miss. When one or another competitor gets the balls open, 1-P does then become a matter of 14.1 skills, thus it was not illogical to think that a straight-pool expert such as Schmidt or Immonen might just snap this off. And indeed, those two men led the way into the finals; when Immonen posted a score just two balls beyond Schmidt's, the latter smiled cheerfully and shrugged, "No biggie," simultaneously flipping the bird high and proudly. The finals themselves produced a surprise winner in former U.S. Open 9-ball champ Gabe Owen, who averaged an astonishing 12 balls per try in his final round. Like Pagulayan's incredible runout against Reyes - in my 50-plus years around the game, I've seen a behind-the-string runout exactly one other time, by Reyes against the luckless Bentivegna - Owen's feat is analogous to a pro golfer breaking 60. It happens now and then; just take care not to seat yourself on a hot stove until you see it again.

Checking out of the hotel, I caught a glimpse of Ohio's talented, and free-spirited, Eric Durbin, making a good-natured feint at chasing a squirrel in the parking lot. "You won't get 'im!" I called out, and Durbin turned, smiling delightedly, a man and a boy at the same time. And in that regard, when it comes to pool, he's a metaphor for all of us.