I need some help here as I rarely play this shot successfully.
Opponent breaks off and pulls one red out.
I pot it and land nicely low on the black.
Next shot is to split the pack.
Should I hit the cue ball with screw, top, side, stun????? Or does it depend on the state of the pack.
I normally end up stuck to reds or if I hit it harder, I miss the black. I don't think hitting it harder is the right way to play the shot - could be wrong...
Any help appreciated.
Hi Bad, I am not the most qualified person to answer this question but it is also an area of my own game that I have been working on in the last year or so and I am quite happy with the results so far. Like everything else, it is an ongoing experiment so I am improving the consistency of this shot incrementally. So I will give you my tuppence on the topic.
"...screw, top, side, or stun??...." As I see it, first things first. Of course, everything is completely dependent on the state of the balls and your own confidence level in the pot and that of course depends on the precise positioning of the balls involved and how easy or difficult your cueing is for the stroke. Makes no sense at all to split the pack if the Black doesn't go in the pocket. So unless the pot is absolute in your mind, do not give the pack any thought at all and focus attention on the pot. Otherwise, you will just be opening the pack for your opponent.
So with that said, let's assume what I would consider perfect positioning all around...Black on spot, White 12 to 18 inches away in line with Black parallel to top cushion, cueing free and unhampered, pack of Reds in normal position and relatively tight. We have all seen Ronnie drill into the pack with such power that the White maintains spin and jumps around in the middle of the Reds like a buzz saw. Don't do that. At least not now.
I know you are an old timer like me. I have argued this strategy many times until blue in the face with my club members. For some reason, there are people who believe that ROS "invented" this tactic and that it is the right way to go in all circumstances. Of course, in reality it was Stephen Hendry that popularized the concept of a clearance in a single visit by spreading the Reds far and wide as early as possible. People like you and I (certainly me at least) would be wise to go back a bit further in time to the days of Ray Reardon and Steve Davis. I think you know what I mean....rather than trying to bust the pack apart in a single go, for the more common caliber of player, the better choice is to chip away at the pack in several strokes, playing the Black with controlled medium force (rather than full power) with the intent being to just knock 2 or 3 Reds out to be available to pot. Then of course, use whatever angle those Reds give you and make a plan to chip into the pack again for another 2 or 3 Reds, and so on.
Obviously, the greater the power with which a stroke is played, the greater will be the inconsistency of the cue action. So if you play this shot with your "monster stroke", the odds of missing the straightforward pot of the Black will skyrocket.
I believe my greatest improvement on this shot came when I finally came to the decision that at the time that I crouch to strike, splitting the pack is completely irrelevant. My only thought at that time is to pot the Black. All else that is to occur (splitting the pack, developing Reds) is simply a natural consequence of the planning that I did when I was standing and analyzing. Crouching down means you are potting a ball; if you have ANY contradictory thoughts cross your mind, you think the White will go at a different angle or will contact a different Red than you thought, STOP!, stand back up, go back to analyzing your shot. DO NOT analyze from the crouched position as it will likely cause you to miss your pot. I cannot stress this point strongly enough. If you successfully potted Black and the split did not occur to your liking, then understand that the problem was in your analysis, NOT in your stroke. (Unless your stroke is crap of course,
, then you have other problems to work out first!)
As for what spin needs to be applied, that of course depends on your own analysis but for me, it is generally a pretty consistent equation. For the side component, I always like a touch of helping side as long as distance between cue and object ball feels comfortable for it. From very near to about a foot, I will play with about a tip of side; a foot to maybe 20 inches, only a half tip or so; and beyond that, probably pretty much centerball to be sure not to curve White off line.
As for top or screw, on any shot at all that needs trajectory of the White analyzed, I ALWAYS just start with the stun line. So potting Black off spot, the stun line is always the same...White would contact the second Red in if there were a full triangle of 15 Reds. So quite clearly this means that if you play with top to any degree, chances are that you will just miss the pack completely (unless a Red or two have already "nudged out" a little further than the triangle corner position). So then the choice becomes either stun to strike that second Red in position, or else screw to strike the center Red position in the back row. Of course then professionally, they will strike a power draw, the White travelling along the stun line before curving back and usually striking between the second and middle Red position and just powering its way into the meat of the pack. This attempt is what I advise against until becoming a much higher quality player. So for me, at my level, and so for others similar to myself, my advice is to pretty much just play the stun line: I strike just a touch below center with moderate power and I try to calculate exactly which Red I will hit and on which side I will hit it.
But here is the big twist now....after the actual strike, OBSERVATION IS CRITICAL! In my curiosity I will often observe other players and for this shot I will often notice that they strike and their eyes then immediately avert to watch the Black to see whether or not it falls in the pocket....I think people just do this reflexively. But it is wrong! Instead, you should strike and then force your eyes (not your head) to switch gaze to the path of White and observe closely. Did it contact the Red you expected? Did it contact full ball or glance off one side or the other? The better your observation, the shorter will be your learning curve. There is no need to watch the Black fall in the pocket. After all, you approached the stroke with full confidence; there is no doubt about the pot. Get that in your head. Your confidence will soar, your game will improve, the Reds will develop.