video: Ronnie O'Sullivan, Master of the Snooker Table
April 1, 2015 6:34 PM   Subscribe

At the 2012 World Snooker Championship final, Ronnie O'Sullivan, considered the most talented snooker player of all time, completed a remarkable sequence of shots to clear the table. Sam Knight comments on the performance. Master of the Snooker Table. [note: autoplaying video]
posted by paleyellowwithorange (60 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
He mentions this in the video, but what seems really crazy to me is the lack of a pause between shots or any really perceptible shot selection. The entire sequence is almost one smooth motion. I thought maybe he just had the whole thing in his head in the beginning, but then the narrator talks about "driving" the white ball and focusing on that and maybe that's the key.

Anyway, really interesting!
posted by selfnoise at 7:00 PM on April 1, 2015


Oh, and that's a bad miss! ....er no, actually there's no missing here at all, and hardly any hesitation. He just sees the next shot.
posted by TreeRooster at 7:03 PM on April 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


Maybe it's the fact that I'm drunk, but Ronnie O'Sullivan just seems like almost an alien at the moment. I can't play snooker for shit, but I wish I could do what he does. Actually I have no false aspirations- no matter how much I practiced, I couldn't do it. It is absolutely incredible to watch him play. Otherworldly. His sense of calm and cool is uncanny. He calculates almost instantly and executes perfectly. It is absolutely unmatched in sport. It's like watching some terminator cyborg.

If you haven't watched one of his 147 games, you really should.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:32 PM on April 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Ha, just finished reading this article in The New Yorker (or is it the New Yorker?).

Follow the White Ball

Fascinating stuff.
posted by The Illiterate Pundit at 7:35 PM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Bollocks. I was just about to link to that NYer piece. It's excellent, and seems to be available in full for subscribers and non-subscribers alike.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:39 PM on April 1, 2015


I am the WORST at pool, and so I would imagine I would be terrible at Snooker, too. In high school, a guy I was just becoming friends with tried to teach me how to play pool and I was so bad at it that he thought I was putting it on and flirting with him by getting him to spend more time teaching me. This was not the case. I was just awful.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:47 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


So this video was mesmerizing and made me jealous.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:47 PM on April 1, 2015


Ronnie O'Sullivan is a straight up genius. In Snooker, there's a maximum number of points you can score while still putting all the balls in the pockets in order: 147 points, a maximum break. Here's a video of one of his maximum breaks (he has the most in history with 13) — the fastest maximum break in history. Shows you why he earned "The Rocket".
posted by Axle at 8:02 PM on April 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


The video was amaze, the exact opposite of the narration. For an institution that fostered the career of John McPhee for a half decade, I would have hoped for perhaps a higher standard of observation and insight than 'ooh, look the cue ball curved there'
posted by 99_ at 8:21 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


My previous exposure to snooker has only been Mitchell and Webb. It's nice to see what the real thing looks like.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 8:22 PM on April 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is amazing, but it lacks the 'onset of a complete mental breakdown' aspect of Richard Herring's Me1 vs. Me2 Snooker podcast.
posted by SafetyPirate at 8:24 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


This break here by Alex Higgins is a paltry 69, but it's really great.
posted by parki at 8:47 PM on April 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does anyone have a good video that explains snooker's rules and scoring? These videos are mesmerising.
posted by Quilford at 10:13 PM on April 1, 2015


I wonder what level of precision you need to achieve on some of those shots. If the white ball collides to one side, the ball it hits will go off at an angle. So how close do you need to come to the desired point of impact? A millimeter? Five? And what does that say about the precision with which you hit the white ball, and the angle it needs to follow?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:22 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quilford, I don't have a video, but here are the absolute basics (and any experts out there, please correct me if I'm wrong):

Each player takes turns. Basically, it's your turn until you fail to pocket a ball or you mess up (which is usually by hitting the wrong ball, or pocketing the wrong ball).

When it's your turn, you have to pocket a red ball first, which is worth one point. Then if you do, you get try to pocket a colored ball, and each is worth a varying number of points. The black one is worth the most, 7 points, which is why players go for it most often if they have the chance. The other ones are worth 2-6 points. If you pocket a colored ball, then it's back to a red ball again, and then back to a colored ball, and so on.

Each time a red ball is pocketed, it stays off the table. But each time a colored ball is pocketed, it goes back to its original spot (there are designated spots for each one).

The round ends when all the reds are gone, and the person who is up exhausts his turn. Then, whoever has the most points wins the round.

There are other rules but these are really the basics.

The ultimate accomplishment in snooker is a "maximum break," which means you clear the entire table in one turn. That means that you score red-black-red-black-red-black until all the reds are off the table. Then, you clear all the colored balls in order, and clear the black one last. If you do, you get a full 147 points. This is really rare because you have to make a ridiculous number of absolutely perfect shots in a row... 36. Every shot has to pot the right ball and end up having the cue ball stop in the perfect spot to set up your next shot.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has done it 13 times. Watching one of his videos online when he does this truly is mesmerizing.
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:02 PM on April 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thanks, Old Man McKay. I don't suppose you could unpack a bit the subtleties of what is occurring, say, here?
posted by Quilford at 11:23 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's a video of one of his maximum breaks (he has the most in history with 13) — the fastest maximum break in history

There's something so crazy satisfying about the shot when he's got 49 points and simultaneously gets the black ball in and breaks up a bunch of closely-grouped red balls. It's at the 2 minute mark in Axle's link, 3 minute mark in Old Man McKay's.
posted by Jpfed at 11:24 PM on April 1, 2015


The round ends when all the reds are gone, and the person who is up exhausts his turn.

Not quite. After all the reds are cleared, play continues until the 7 colours are potted (in order) or a player concedes.

If you do, you get a full 147 points. This is really rare because you have to make a ridiculous number of absolutely perfect shots in a row... 36.

Even rarer: a 148 point break.
posted by rh at 11:24 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the correction rh. Yep, the colors need to go in order. My mistake.

(Hey, for an french-fry-eating American snooker fan I was close.)

Quilford: "Thanks, Old Man McKay. I don't suppose you could unpack a bit the subtleties of what is occurring, say, here? "

Oh wow. This video is awesome.

Basically what's happened is that there's a practically unplayable cluster of balls down in the bottom left corner. When it's your turn, your first shot has to hit a red ball, and it can only pocket a red ball. If it pockets a colored ball like the pink ball, that's a foul.

And that pink ball is sitting right on the very edge- any contact with it and it'll go in the pocket and that'll be a foul if your shot was supposed to only hit and pocket a red.

If I'm not mistaken, on your foul, your opponent gets points, and it's their shot (if they choose to take it), and now, that unplayable cluster down in the corner isn't really unplayable anymore. So now they'd get points, and they'd have a shot at a nice run. And this is a very close game- both players have around 30 points, so it's up for grabs.

So both players REALLY don't want to be the one who fouls and pockets the pink ball out of turn.

As a result they're trolling each other by continually trying to set up their opponent for a bad shot where they'll pocket the pink ball. And they trade blows for a ridiculous number of shots in a row. By the time you get to about 5:30, O'Sullivan has really screwed his opponent by pushing all the red balls way down into the corner and making it extremely difficult to avoid accidentally pocketing the pink. Then Trump responds with a great shot of his own. That's where the fun really begins and both players acknowledge how well they're both playing.

There's a little more strategy going into it too, but the main battle is over who will make their opponent pocket the pink. Finally O'Sullivan gets tired of it and just seems to take the foul.

rh, do I have that right?
posted by Old Man McKay at 11:44 PM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just to point something out in the video, when O'Sullivan comes to the next to last ball, the pink, the commentator wonders whether he can make it. He does, by switching to play the shot left handed.
posted by biffa at 1:21 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


What a perfectly timed post! The Snooker World Championship breaks off in a couple of weeks. I don't think they've made the draw yet, but O'Sullivan — currently ranked #2 — will definitely be there.

I say "definitely", but this being Ronnie, there's a chance he'll withdraw from the tournament. Unlikely, given it's the Worlds, but... you never know with him. Pro Snooker Blog is keeping a close eye on how things develop.

Apart from O'Sullivan, watch out for established crowd-pleasers like Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Judd Trump, and Mark Allen, plus up and coming talents like Michael White, Ben Woollaston, and Anthony McGill.

Anyway, if you fancy watching 16 days of incredible snooker, you've got a couple of weeks to work out how to watch/stream the BBC coverage. The BBC commentary team (you can occasionally hear them underneath Sam Knight's commentary on the linked video) are almost all former World Champions, and will tell you the answers to pretty much all the questions that are coming up in this thread.

I, for one, cannot fucking wait.
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:55 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Watching Ronnie play when he's at his best is just sublime. It's like watching any genius do their thing - it brings a real feeling of joy watching something being done exactly as well as it's possible to do it. It's a pity that he finds his gift a burden at times and talks about retiring from the game fairly frequently. I remember watching the match where he wasn't going to finish the 147 and being really pissed off at him. To be able to do something that others only aspire to and thinking "Nah" is really frustrating for fans who love to watch spectacles like that. It would be nice if he could find contentment.
posted by billiebee at 4:03 AM on April 2, 2015


When Ronnie O'Sullivan is a bit off, he's one of the best snooker players playing the game. When he's on, he is so far ahead of anybody either playing or who has played the game that it's hard to describe. No baseball or football player (ANY football) is as superior. Micheal Jordan at his peak isn't that dominant.

The last person I can think of that was this dominant in a sport -- utterly better than anyone before or during, and will probably be utterly better than anyone for decades to come -- was Don Bradman in Cricket, who retired with a test scoring average just short of a century. He, for all intents, hit 100 runs every time he played test cricket. The 2nd highest? 63. There's quite the group at 60 and the high 50s. And then there's Bradman, at 99.94.

That's O'Sullivan's level. Five Sigma? Seven? Hard to tell. But he miles beyond "incredibly good." There are three-four incredibly good sport players playing in any given year.

Guys like Bradman and O'Sullivan? They don't even come along once in a lifetime.
posted by eriko at 4:18 AM on April 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


What makes O'Sullivan even more amazing, is that snooker itself is a ridiculously hard game to play. The table is huge, and the pockets are tiny. Its practically microsurgery compared to Pool's ditch digging.


On another note, there's probably an entire generation who know order of potting the colours from the lyrics to this song. (The 1980s were a dark dark time)
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 4:31 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


[note: autoplaying video]

For this post, it's a feature not a bug.

I loved Pot Black: "for those watching in black & white, the blue is near the cluster of reds and the yellow is over the side pocket."

Pool and me, we is bud buds. I play it, it plays me. All cool, pool.

Snooker on the other hand, on a full sized table ... I can't control the ball that far, I can't shaft it with enough power. That's why I like watching the masters, the way they make something so hard, look so easy.

Thanks for this. A+ Will watch again.
posted by Thella at 4:47 AM on April 2, 2015


On another note, there's probably an entire generation who know order of potting the colours from the lyrics to this song

I love snooker and watch it a lot but I have a terrible memory, so I still sing that song in my head when I'm trying to remember the order!
posted by billiebee at 4:56 AM on April 2, 2015


When I was a lad, pool was all the rage. I'm talking 1962-5 or so. My older brother and I wanted a pool table so bad, we badgered my dad endlessly and even offered to help pay for it. He found an old snooker table in the want ads for $200, so my brother and I kicked in $120 and my dad paid the rest. When we went to look at the behemoth (snooker tables are 7' x 12') my head was spinning with joy. Unfortunately, someone had covered the table in a cheap felt from Penney's and the bumpers were loose. But the slate was unbroken, the leather webbing on the pockets was solid, the bumper cushions resilient, and the balls, rack, rake, and cue wood were in excellent condition. We got it home, sized and ordered the felt, retipped the cues, reglued the bumper cushions, leveled the slate and the table and, when the felt arrived, carefully stretched it over the bumpers and slate.

Now, not only is the snooker table larger than a regulation pool table (6' x' 10'), but it has smaller balls (2.125" vs 2.25-2.375") and pocket openings. Although the increased distances and smaller ball sizes seem somewhat trivial in the abstract, in combination they demand far more precision in shots. Consequently, my long hours of shooting in the basement honed my skills and I could beat my brother, my friends, my father, and just about anybody. The real surprise was that when I went to play people who had only played pool, I found that I was way more skilled. Skilled enough that I could almost always win when someone said they were "pretty good." This skill kept me in pocket money during my first three years of college. Eventually, it was hard to get people to play with me for money.

My skills have rusted since then and my modest house doesn't have a room big enough, but when I see a snooker table, I get pangs and think about moving to a bigger place.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:21 AM on April 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Correction: I just looked it up and I misremembered the ball size: it's 2-1/16 not 2-1/8 for snooker.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:28 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"for those watching in black & white, the blue is near the cluster of reds and the yellow is over the side pocket."

The main memories I have of my grandmother involve sitting on the bed in her room (she pretty much lived in the spare bedroom of our council house for half the year through the '80s) watching Pot Black on a black-and-white portable telly. We knew exactly which ball was which, because after a while you learn to distinguish each colour by its relative greyness.
posted by pipeski at 5:29 AM on April 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, and that's a bad miss! ....er no, actually there's no missing here at all, and hardly any hesitation. He just sees the next shot.

He's thinking many shots ahead on any given shot, like a chess player, except he gets to determine the position if his skill is adequate. Watch the way the cue ball dances after he pots a ball, lining itself up just so for the next shot. He chooses the next shot not based on making the next one the easiest, but rather making it easier to line up the shot after that and after that. He plans as far ahead as the table will let him.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:31 AM on April 2, 2015


Snooker on the other hand, on a full sized table ... I can't control the ball that far, I can't shaft it with enough power.

The culture shock between the two cannot be underestimated, either. A snooker table is GIGANTIC. It feels like you're waving a stick from the side of a field if you're used to playing pool. My best friend and I spent far more time than is healthy in pubs when we were younger and we were both good enough at pool that one or other of us (good day dependent) would usually be able to stay on the table on 'winner stays on' etc. Good solid players, not brilliant or very good, even four pints or more in. Then we went upstairs at a club that had a snooker table.

We racked them up, and I went to break and hit the white and it didn't even get as far as the pack. It didn't even nudge them. We then spent a hilarious hour or so utterly failing to hit anything to anything like our usual standard. We struggled to pot one ball, and planning the next shot was just impossible. We were so bad we were in stitches after every shot and my sides hurt when we finally gave up. We didn't even finish the game. Great game, phenomenally difficult, not least because the distances are so vast that any tiny, tiny error in spin or placement put the ball a foot or two away from where you wanted it. You can't even *get* that far wrong on a pool table unless you shut your eyes and swing at the balls with the blunt end.
posted by Brockles at 5:34 AM on April 2, 2015


That New Yorker article is incredible. I kind of just want to play snooker forever now.
posted by Quilford at 6:49 AM on April 2, 2015


There's a person who puts the balls back on the table after they've been pocketed. How much does that gig pay?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:04 AM on April 2, 2015


One measure of O'Sullivan's talent is that after you watch him make a fast break, and his opponent gets a chance at the table again, then the opponent can look so slow and inept.
posted by carter at 7:12 AM on April 2, 2015


Thanks for this post; I read the article but didn't realize there was an associated video.

O'Sullivan previously on the blue.
posted by languagehat at 7:23 AM on April 2, 2015


One measure of O'Sullivan's talent is that after you watch him make a fast break, and his opponent gets a chance at the table again, then the opponent can look so slow and inept.

That reminded me of this time Ebdon beat him. If the other players seem slow and inept to us (and God knows Ebdon is one of the slowest at the best of times - I never enjoy watching him play) imagine what it feels like to O'Sullivan who just wants to get on with it. It's definitely one of the ways to break him. Like when you're teaching a kid how to do something and you're patient for while and then you're just like "Oh give it here, I'll do it!" Except he's stuck in his chair and losing his mind.
posted by billiebee at 7:37 AM on April 2, 2015 [3 favorites]




Back in college the Union had a pool hall with a single snooker table. We took up playing it because the table was *always* open.

Fun game.
posted by oddman at 8:50 AM on April 2, 2015


There's a person who puts the balls back on the table after they've been pocketed. How much does that gig pay?

That's the referee, so there is a lot more to it than replacing balls. Its one of those jobs which pays pretty well at the top but you are looking at working your way up and that may mean some voluntary work and then less well paid work first.
posted by biffa at 9:09 AM on April 2, 2015


I've only seen snooker in passing on ESPN2 or whatever, so I only vaguely knew how different it was from pool. It's really neat the way there is a mirror game -- with every shot, there's one that is about where the ball you are aiming at goes, and a second about where the white ball goes, so you have to calculate both angles and velocities.
posted by tavella at 9:24 AM on April 2, 2015


I need to watch this (when I can get a connection faster than dialup). My Dad used to tell us he hustled snooker for beer money when he was in his 20's. Never played snooker against him, but he could play one hell of a game of 8-ball. Lost his eyesight to Macular Degeneration in his 80's and had to finally give up the game.
posted by jgaiser at 9:53 AM on April 2, 2015


I just want to tell you bastards that I've now got the chorus of "Snooker Loopy" running through my mind. I only watched it once, and not even all the way through, but it seems likely to have taken up long-term residence. Thanks loads.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:20 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Between the snooker videos and the Mitchell & Webb highlight reel and some random QI bits with Mitchell and then some more snooker, this has eaten a lot more of my morning than I'd expected, and I haven't even gotten to the New Yorker piece.
posted by cortex at 10:33 AM on April 2, 2015


eriko: He, for all intents, hit 100 runs every time he played test cricket.

Nitpick: Since the runs from a Not Out innings contribute to the numerator, but not the denominator, that doesn't quite hold. As a matter of fact, his 6996 runs came in 80 innings. Obviously, still way above anyone else.

As an aside, I noticed during the recently concluded World Cup a #10/11 batsman who had an average of 21 but a best score of 20!
posted by Gyan at 11:16 AM on April 2, 2015


It's interesting how people still remember the "for those viewing in black and white..." descriptions. Apparently, the Pot Black broadcasts were specifically approved by David Attenborough when he was controller of BBC2 as something which would showcase the station's new colour transmissions. As tv snooker got more popular, the fact that you needed a colour set to really enjoy it helped the sales of colour tvs quite a bit.
posted by Azara at 12:10 PM on April 2, 2015


The first Killer App?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:20 PM on April 2, 2015


my long hours of shooting in the basement honed my skills and I could beat my brother, my friends, my father, and just about anybody. The real surprise was that when I went to play people who had only played pool, I found that I was way more skilled.

I know what you mean, Mental Wimp. My father bought a 3/4 snooker table when I was 12 and I spent ten years playing on it, 50/50 snooker and pool with rare bouts of billiards. It meant that playing pool in the pub later on was a breeze in comparison - such short shots it was hard to miss. I can imagine how learning on a full-size table would make it even easier. It probably helped that I started learning when I was just a kid, when a 3/4 table was relatively huge.

In those days (1980s) the Australian ABC was still showing the BBC series Pot Black, which is what I think of as the real source of public love for the game. Eddie Charlton, Ray Reardon and Steve Davis were the ones to watch back then. (Pleasing to learn from Wikipedia that David Attenborough was the man responsible for bringing snooker to our screens. His other great legacy!)

Between the reds (1) and black (7), the colours are worth 2 (yellow), 3 (green), 4 (brown), 5 (blue) and 6 (pink). If you foul on a red, yellow, green or brown your opponent scores 4 points; if you foul on a blue, pink or black they score the value of that ball. A foul could be sinking the wrong ball (e.g. a colour when you were going for a red, or a ball going in at the same time as another), sinking the white (even if you successfully sink the ball you were going for), missing your target ball with the white and hitting a colour (when you were going for reds) or a red (when you were going for colours), or missing altogether. Fouls are a significant aspect of amateur scoring, but almost never part of the scoring you'll watch on these sorts of clips.

One more thing about Pot Black: it was introduced in 1969, which was before colour TV was widespread in Britain and Australia. I remember watching it on our black and white TV more than on the colour TV. That might sound crazy, given the coloured balls, but it didn't really matter. Almost all the balls were easily distinguishable by their particular shade of grey in B&W, apart from (if memory serves) the green and the blue, and you could almost always remember which of those was which from its position on the table.

Great game. Now I'm feeling gutted that I'll never again live in a place big enough for a 3/4-size snooker table...

[On preview: Azara beat me to the punch about Attenborough and B&W, oh well.]
posted by rory at 2:11 PM on April 2, 2015


as tv snooker got more popular, the fact that you needed a colour set to really enjoy it helped the sales of colour tvs quite a bit.

Well, it was nicer, obviously, but you really didn't need it. I was watching it in B&W into the mid-1980s, while other members of the family were watching something else on the colour TV in the other room, in the days before we had a VCR.
posted by rory at 2:15 PM on April 2, 2015


(Thinking of Pot Black has now invoked my other memories of that B&W TV set, watching early-1980s repeats of Callan, I, Claudius and—appropriately, given its title's Proustian overtones—Rush. I was on the B&W because Mum and Dad had already seen them and my brother wasn't interested, so they left me to it. Life before box sets, Netflix, and a screen in every room...)
posted by rory at 2:36 PM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


So how close do you need to come to the desired point of impact? A millimeter? Five?

Let's take the (apparently routine) potting of the black ball on its spot in a close corner pocket. The object ball has to travel somewhat more than half the width of the table; call it 3'. The pocket is 3.5" wide or so, but let's cut that in half because we see the pocket at an angle and because the ball's width is a pretty big fraction of the pocket's width. So the usable subtended angle is roughly (equal to its sine, which is roughly) 3.5/(2*36), call it 0.05 radians. On a ball with diameter roughly 2", that's roughly 0.05".

So, maybe something in the neighbourhood of 10 to 15 mm.

But as others have pointed out, the thing is to simultaneously control where the cue ball ends up, which depends very heavily on weight and spin. I'm not sure how to represent precision in those variables as intuitively as precision in position.
posted by stebulus at 5:35 PM on April 2, 2015


Can someone explain to this noob why Trump gets a do-over around 19:00-20:00 of the video Quilford linked to?
posted by zeri at 6:01 PM on April 2, 2015


Trump has to hit the red ball first there; he fails to do so, so it's a foul. O'Sullivan gets 7 points (the value of the black ball, which Trump fouled on). The referee calls it not just a foul but a foul and a miss*; O'Sullivan then has the option of making Trump play the shot again, which he takes because (presumably) he doesn't much like his own position then, and he's pretty sure Trump won't sink the red and be able to continue, and there's a decent chance Trump will foul again and O'Sullivan will get even more points that way.

*I'm not sure why the referee considers it a foul and a miss — maybe he thinks Trump could have taken the single bank shot and that means Trump wasn't making "the best possible effort" to hit the red? Dunno. There's some discussion of this in the video at about 19:45, but I can't hear it.
posted by stebulus at 6:40 PM on April 2, 2015


Apparently O'Sullivan is not only the most talented player of all time but also the Inigo Montoya of snooker:

When he first displayed this left-handed ability in the 1996 World Championship against Alain Robidoux, the Canadian accused him of disrespect. O'Sullivan responded that he played better with his left hand than Robidoux could with his right. He was summoned to a disciplinary hearing in response to Robidoux's formal complaint, where he had to prove that he could play to a high level with his left hand. He played three frames of snooker against former world championship runner-up Rex Williams, winning all three. The charge of bringing the game into disrepute was subsequently dropped.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 7:39 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


On a ball with diameter roughly 2", that's roughly 0.05".

So, maybe something in the neighbourhood of 10 to 15 mm.


Decimal misplaced: 0.05" is just 1.27mm.
posted by Jpfed at 10:01 PM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The problem is much harder than that, because the angle taken by the object ball will vary wildly depending on the point of impact with the cue ball. I understand that this is called a "stun shot" and it seems to me that the object ball can hypothetically be made to depart at any angle less than 90 degrees from the direction of the cue ball - in practice much less than 90 degrees, of course. And this is without taking the cue ball's spin into account!

So how precise does the impact of the cue ball with the object ball need to be? If the 90 degree rule is accurate then it looks like a relatively easy geometry problem, but not one I have the time to solve right now.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:20 PM on April 2, 2015


The problem is much harder than that, because the angle taken by the object ball will vary wildly depending on the point of impact with the cue ball.

Yes; the desired precision in the angle of the movement of the object ball corresponds to the needed precision in the position of the point of contact on its surface. That's what I computed (at back-of-the-envelope level).
posted by stebulus at 3:58 AM on April 3, 2015


Don't forget to include spin in your calculations, angleheads. Professionals regularly play the cue ball with side spin, and have to compensate by hitting the object ball in a slightly different place.

To put it another way, if you play the same shot twice, once "plain ball" and once with loads of side (Americans call this "english" I think), the object ball will move in a different direction each time. This is why you sometimes hear commentators explaining that a player missed a pot due to "unwanted side" / "hitting across the ball".
posted by ZipRibbons at 4:34 AM on April 3, 2015


Ronnie O'Sullivan is quite the theatrical character. Here he is in 2010 at the World Open. He nails two balls, and then turns to the referee and asks if there's a special prize for getting a perfect 147 break; the referee says he doesn't know, and O'Sullivan asks him to halt play to go check. After a few moments, the flummoxed referee returns and says he doesn't think so, although there is a prize for the highest break of the tournament. Ronnie O'Sullivan, of course, nods his head and then duly proceeds to clear the table of all balls – through some quite difficult shots! – except that last black one, at which point he actually walks away from the table and shakes the hand of his competitor, as though he is going to refuse to finish a perfect break simply because there isn't a special prize for doing so. The referee grabs his arm and whispers in his ear for a moment (O'Sullivan later claimed he was telling him to "do it for the fans") and he finally returns to the table and sinks that last ball.

The chutzpah of this guy. So much cool it's beading up and rolling off of him.

This was, incidentally, his tenth perfect 147, with which he overtook the previous world record and became the man who'd accomplished more perfect breaks than anyone else in snooker history.
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 PM on April 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


hoist with his own pet aardvark: “Apparently O'Sullivan is not only the most talented player of all time but also the Inigo Montoya of snooker...”

It's interesting to watch the video of that first-round 1996 World Championships match against Alain Robidoux wherein he so royally pissed of Robidoux by playing exclusively with his left hand. O'Sullivan has pretty much beaten Robidoux before the video starts, and, apparently bored, decides to play the rest of the frame with his left hand. This angers Robidoux so much that he won't concede, and eventually won't even let the match end; O'Sullivan is taunting him by setting up shots for him, leaving a ball inches from the hole with a perfect angle on it, and Robidoux steadfastly refuses to sink anything, proceeding to simply knock each ball out of line and attempt to make O'Sullivan's shots more difficult. O'Sullivan finally sinks the deciding ball and walks out of the match, but up until then, it's tense, almost painfully so, as both players seem to be angry at each other. It's interesting to hear the announcers, who start off thinking this might be a good tactic for Robidoux to throw O'Sullivan off for the rest of the championships, but ultimately see that O'Sullivan really and truly doesn't give a toss what happens, and indeed seems to take pleasure in the mockery.

Also, worth noting that he was five months shy of his 21st birthday. Just a babe, really.
posted by koeselitz at 12:21 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


World Snooker have just finalised the draw for this year's World Championship at the Crucible.

(Ronnie plays his first match on Tuesday and Wednesday)
posted by ZipRibbons at 5:49 AM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


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