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© Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
Diagram #1: Here is an interesting position, however it came about, clever play or stupidity. There may be a temptation to trade fouls forever, stalemate. Or you may want to bank your ball (red ball or eight ball) and leave a bank for your opponent if you miss. Let's say that your opponent shoots here, and gives you ball in hand. We have two similar cases here, (Case I) you have the eight ball, and (Case II) you have the red ball.
Case I (you have ball in hand on the eight in the left diagram) - I would separate the balls, making sure a ball goes to a rail, leaving him/her hooked (snookered) as in the right diagram. In a high-pressure situation, he/she wants to kick at the red, but that seems to give away the game. He/she must lag the eight toward the red ball, giving you ball in hand similar to that in the left diagram, but farther down the rail. You may have left a tough angle for this task. If he/she was successful in gathering the balls, you can again separate the balls, making sure a ball goes to a rail, and making sure you don't leave the red ball hanging in the side pocket where your opponent can win with a kick. Let's say that you do this all the way down the rail, until you have ball in hand with both balls near the corner pocket (near right corner not shown in these diagrams). Now what? Let's look at that situation:
Crunch time - Until now, you have had the easier shots, and you were favored to win. Now you have several options: (1) you can foul giving up ball in hand without moving the balls much (this gives your opponent a lot of options, like going back down the rail in the opposite direction), (2) you can nudge the eight without moving it much, safety (your opponent gives up ball in hand and you have not progressed), (3) you make the red ball and leave your opponent a bank on the eight (you may lose right away, maybe not), (4) bank the eight and hope it goes (sounds like suicide, as it is hard to leave a tough shot), (5) it may be possible to make the red and leave the cue ball and eight ball frozen with no shot (takes a soft touch and the right angle), (6) throw the eight into the same pocket as the red with draw (back off so you can stroke it, if the red is going to hang up, don't shoot this), (7) shooting parallel to end rail, double kiss the eight and leave the cue ball near the far side rail (if you do it right, the eight may now have a path to some pocket, otherwise you will get ball in hand right back), (8) it may be possible to leave the red ball on the end rail a ways from the pocket so a kick will be tough. Which one appeals to you?
Case II (you have ball in hand on the red ball in the first diagram (diagram #3)) - This is very similar to Case I. I would separate the balls as in the diagram on the right. Make sure you don't make the eight or leave it hanging in the pocket. Your opponent then must lag the red up to the eight. And your options are similar to the above, at crunch time, when the balls get close to the pocket.
Diagram #1: Let's go back to the original diagram #1, with the cue ball a ways from the clustered balls. I would try to get a soft good hit without disturbing the balls much. I don't really want to give up ball in hand. But if the shot is too tough, or if I shoot too soft (I don't want to shoot too hard), it may be necessary to give up ball in hand. You can win that game, too. There also may be a double kiss on your ball, with some speed, which may leave your ball about where it is. Practice that shot.
Tired of this battle? I'm not. With ball in hand, as described above, I can improve my winning chances even more. First of all a delicate trap in Case I above, after a couple of shots I have achieved the position on the left. I had to be careful to not leave an easy kick into the side. Now my opponent cannot lag the eight up to his ball, because I can just shoot the eight into the side. I think he/she has to kick at the red and hope to leave a tough shot, a hard kick to leave a long shot or a soft kick to hope to leave the red in the way of my shot. The tough part of setting up this shot is that it was very difficult to position the red ball. I had to play a few safes as shown above before we were close enough to the side pocket that I had enough confidence in my ball speed to try this.
Even better is the idea on the right. Of course this takes some care (I have to hit a rail, and leave the opponent hooked), but is not as delicate as the last idea. When I separate the balls, I try to move the opponent's ball away from the rail. Then his/her next safe is nearly impossible. He/she has to kick with speed and hope to leave me a bank on the eight. But I should win this game.
A third idea is to make it nearly impossible for the opponent to lag the eight up to the red ball. Here he/she might shoot some kind of push shot, or hit the eight with his/her tip, and lag the eight to the red. That's illegal, but he/she was giving up ball in hand anyway. It would be interesting to hear what the rule is.
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