Saturday 19 August 2017

9 seriously niche snooker delights that only cue sport fanatics will understand

By Max McLean

It’s about so much more than balls on a table.

There’s no tournament quite like the World Snooker Championship – and with the competition reaching the all-important semi-final stage, the majesty of the baize is in full swing.

And part of that majesty is undoubtedly the intriguing peculiarities that each frame has the potential to throw up. These are the joys that only a true snooker purist will understand.

1. The two-table situation becomes one

Moving from the two-table situation on the famously cramped stage of the Crucible Theatre to the single table set-up afforded to the semi-final and final is like stretching your legs after a long drive in the car.

Suddenly the cameras have space to roam and perhaps, most importantly, the players don’t have to sit next to one another in between frames.

2. The re-rack

Fair weather fans come for the century breaks, but the real supporters are all about the re-rack. If both players agree the frame is going nowhere, the referee can be asked to start the frame again.

One for the scrapbook.

3. The re-spotted black

Unlike Test cricket, snooker refuses to accept the very existence of the draw.

Should the scores be level at the end of a frame (and what a mathematical joy that is) then the black is put on its spot, alone, and both players summoned to the table to do battle once more. Stick that up your penalty shoot-out.

4. All the rests

We love a rest at the snooker – from the regular x-shape, to the spider, the hook rest and even the swan neck, which Peter Ebdon is so ably demonstrating in the above picture.

When a player reaches for the rest, you know sh*t’s getting real.

5. Foul, and a miss

The foul rule is many-layered and complex, and provides one of the most thrilling spectacles in sport should conditions allow.

If a player is not technically snookered and misses the object ball three times in succession, they forfeit the frame. Just. Like. That.

6. Free balls

If your opponent fouls and leaves you snookered on the reds, you are awarded a free ball, by which you may pot a colour as if it were a red to start your break – quite a treat, huh?

Those with a keen mind will have realised that means the maximum break of 147 can actually be bettered, with a 155 a possibility. Jamie Cope managed it in a witnessed practice match, but if someone were to do it at the World Championship, it would probably break snooker.

7. When a colour doesn’t go on its spot

Great fun, this. When a ball is obstructing a potted colour’s spot, that colour returns to table on the next most valuable ball’s spot, leaving you with something of a unique table set up. And don’t even get us started on what happens when there are no spots available.

Welcome to the circus.

8. A clearance without the black ball

The black ball is the most valuable on the table, so it pays to build a break around it.

However, when the black ball finds itself out of position it’s time for the other colours to shine. The lowest possible total clearance is 72 – that’s 15 reds, 15 yellows and the colours.

9. When all the extensions are in use

And last but not least, nothing’s more likely to raise a chuckle at the Crucible Theatre than the sight of a player with all the extensions, rest and all, in use.

Resembling something of a fishing rod, it’s about as close to Live at the Apollo as things are going to get – and that’s just the way we like it.

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