Scoring Power



What concentration must it have taken for players like Newman, Davis and Lindrum to allow them to make Billiard break numbering in the thousands?

Walter Lindrum even broke the four thousand barrier, which must have take many hours, even with intervals where the balls were removed from the playing surface and replaced at the commencement of the next session, this was a tremendous feat of endurance.

Willie Smith did not go in for the highly efficient and yet repetitive for the audience, methods of scoring. Willie made a break of over two thousand using a mixture of pots, cannons and in offs. This to my mind was an amazing achievement, as the so-called “cushion crawlers” as he dubbed them used to score highly with a flick of the wrist. These players scored remarkably quickly too as the balls rarely travelled very far, sometimes their passage on the cloth, would need measuring in millimetres rather than inches. 

A modern frame of snooker takes on average between 15 and 25 minutes to complete and obviously each break can be over in seconds, the billiard players of the old days uses to make breaks for hours on end, without their opponent getting to the table.

One player broke off against Walter Lindrum playing to a thousand points and never made another visit to the table, Walter ran out the game in one visit.

Even making nursery cannons must have taken a large amount of mental effort, as this discipline requires the masterly control of the trajectory of all three balls. 

In the days of W J Peall, it was not unheard of for players to pot nearly a thousand red balls from the spot. Imagine not missing a black of its spot for two hours?

The other thing to bear in mind is that either Crystalate or Ivory balls were in use well into the 1920’s, these balls were not as responsive as modern balls and did not react so positively to applied spin effects thus making them more of a challenge. 

I play Snooker in my local league and have noted on many occasions that the pockets on older Billiard Tables are cut differently to modern pockets. In fact, just last week I placed my fist in the pocket of the table that we were due to compete on, discovering that the pocket and my fist were a snug fit. The pockets back at my club are modern template standard and yet my fist has approximately half an inch clearance, this must affect the number of balls potted in a session. W J Peall and Walter Lindrum were competing on these types of tables all the time, which puts their achievements into perspective for me.

The 2,501 break made by Joe Davis and recorded on many billiard-cue badges, was made by extensive use of the “pendulum cannon”. This scoring method relied on the skill of the player to keep both object balls close to the jaws of a corner pocket and repeatedly score cannons from the position. Again the skill and concentration required to perform this shot even a few times is enormous, so keeping it up for over two thousand points is nothing short of miraculous, in my opinion.

If you would like to know more about the achievements of the Billiard players of the past, look out for out of print second hand copies of Clive Everton’s books on the history of billiards and snooker along with future entries on this site.

David Smith
Cues n Views