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.