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Thin to Win ~ Anthony Beeler

During the late 1990’s I spent a lot of time competing in tournaments at Shannon Daulton’s All Star Billiards in Somerset, Kentucky.  Shannon’s tournaments were always popular and he always had a way of drawing the most talented players in the area. In fact, I can recall one occasion where North Carolina native, Charlie “Hillbilly” Bryant visited his poolroom.

At that time, Bryant was a strong road player displaying powerful offensive skills. One Saturday afternoon he entered Shannon’s monthly 9-Ball tournament.  The fields were always tough, but I knew that Bryant would be a significant force in an already formidable field.  During a normal tournament Shannon usually drew around 40 talented players.  However, Bryant was such a powerful breaker and skilled ball runner that local tournament legend Mike Blevins stated that he didn’t believe that Bryant would be beat.

As the tournament progressed, Bryant ran rack after rack.  The local competition seemed to be no match for him, but it wasn’t long until we were pitted against one another in the semi-finals of the event.  

I knew that for me to win I was going to have to play my very best.  We were racing to 6 games.  The match seesawed back and forth with me leading the match by a score of 5-4.  In game number 10, I broke the balls and ran down to the 7 and was left with a very thin cut shot, as pictured in the diagram below.  As I lined up on the shot, I knew that speed would be a critical element in pocketing the ball.  

In fact, before the match I had learned a valuable lesson watching Shannon Daulton play Charlie Bryant some one-pocket. During their practice session, Charlie lost a game shooting the same shot that I was currently facing.  After Charlie missed the ball, Shannon said, “You have got to hit that ball with some speed.  You didn’t hit it with a full stroke.  Your aim on that shot is only as good as the speed that you hit it with.”  

I knew that Shannon was referring to friction induced throw.  If you strike a thin cut shot too soft friction will drag the object ball off the intended target line.  Essentially, you can strike the object ball in the correct place and still miss the ball.

I remember pondering their conversation as I got down to shoot my shot. At that point, I got back up off the shot and reset myself.   I knew that I needed to hit the shot with top left spin and a firm speed in order to give myself the best possible chance to win.  Shooting the shot firm reduces friction induced throw giving you a much truer aim.

After carefully contemplating what to do, I executed the shot perfectly, falling in line on the 8-ball to get to the 9.  I then pocketed the remaining balls to win the match. 

After the match was over, Charlie shook my hand and congratulated me on my victory saying, “Son, you are hitting the balls awfully good! I knew that 7 wouldn’t be easy, but you hit it perfectly. Speed was crucial on that shot.  Hitting thin cut shots too soft can be a real aiming barrier. You deserved to win that game!”  I told him that I was very fortunate to hear his conversation with Shannon before the match.  He said, “Yes, it’s just like Shannon said, no matter what aiming system you use it’s completely worthless if the shot isn’t struck with the correct speed.”

Always remember that speed control is critical.  The best aiming system in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you strike the shot too soft.  So the next time you have to go thin to win remember to strike the shot firm and you will increase your chances of pocketing the ball by a significant margin.


Author: Anthony Beeler

Editor: Shaylyn Troop

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