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Dirty Cue Ball and Other Factors Affecting English

Dirty Cue Ball and Other Factors Affecting English

Thanks for answering the question about cleaning a cue ball. That discussion left me wondering: why clean the ball?

From the question you can see I'm a beginner. I think I know why but find the feedback from someone who really knows is very helpful as I learn...i.e. knowing why pool balls behave as they do, especially as I am learning to put English on the cue, helps me focus my observations and learning. I played in college...40 years ago...and, here as a Peace Corps volunteer in the DR, I am playing again and have become interested and want to really get better.

Chiefly, I want to learn to control the cue ball position after a shot which means having a full understanding of English.

I think a clean cue ball is essential because a dirty one grips the cloth too well. I think English including stun and draw rely on the cue ball's ability to slide while it is actually rotating such that gripping the cloth would not allow it to do. I saw in a championship match one of the players complaining about a chalk mark on the cue and asked it to be cleaned. It seems not an unusual request. No one blinked an eye and the ball was cleaned immediately by someone well practiced at it. That clued me in to this being important and my guess as to why.

I also think chalk marks on the cloth changes the cloth's friction characteristics and, therefore, can "trip" or spoil the English on a ball including the spin that a cue imparts to an object ball resulting in unpredictable motion of both the cue and the object ball. I would have never thought to draw in chalk on the cloth

Am I right? If so, to what extent is this important?

I think I have enough sense to not to expect to be able to really learn much about English on the public tables here; they're dirty and the balls are very dirty and often chipped from being bounced on the bare concrete floors of the halls. So I am concentrating on aiming straight and using light strokes for conservative motion (the inevitable follow) of the cue ball. I have been successful imparting stun but not with draw. Maybe it's me, but maybe not. I'm suspicious.

One frequently-found "trick" I've seen on the internet shows two object balls frozen on the rail and touching each other. The cue strikes one obliquely sending the second object ball along the rail toward the corner pocket. The "trick" is that that ball will always move off the rail and not go into the corner pocket UNLESS the player puts a little saliva at the contact point between the two object balls. The saliva lubricates that connection so rotation of the first ball, imparted to it from the cue ball, does not get transferred to the second ball and the second ball then runs true along the rail to the pocket. What that tells me is that if the balls were polished with silicone spray so they're really slippery they will behave differently than if they are in various stages of being dirty and more grippy. For normal play this will not be an issue. But I like to make combination shots and then more comes into play than is obvious. I think a lot of that has to do with the reliable, uniform cleanliness of the balls (or lack of same) especially the cue if it is to slide along the cloth in a predictable way. And, yes, I am an engineer and like to think about these things, but I also like the game.

I am surprised that for all the videos I've seen about English, I've found no mention of this aspect, which makes me think I might be wrong and, therefore, this letter to you. I think it's real. If throw is real, then ball cleanliness is real. There's a lot going on that is not obvious. Dr. Dave's slow motion videos on English make that quite clear.

Would you comment on these ideas and guesses of mine or direct me to either a YouTube video or other instruction that deals comprehensively with this aspect of the game? I'd like to know if I am correct and, if so, to what extent, does cleanliness make a big difference (I think it must) or is it so slight a difference that it's not worth worrying about and my difficulty with putting draw on the balls on the dirty table with the dirty cue and object balls I find in my local pool hall here, is about something else and I need to focus on that instead.

I've met several very good players here. One told me that "you can't put English on the cue ball here with these cues." I don't think the cue has much to do with it. I think the cleanliness of the cloth and the cue has everything to do with it. (If you don't want to compensate for squirt, buy a Predator cue stick, but that's the end of what a different cue will or won't do.) The cue ball has to be able to slide over the cloth. That's my guess.

Thanks, and Happy New Year. I look forward to your reply.


Paul Kenyon
Peace Corps volunteer: 2011 - ?
Sector: Health/Appropriate Technology
Dominican Republic

Dirty Cue Ball and Other Factors Affecting English

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Dirty Cue Ball and Other Factors Affecting English

  • Title: Dirty Cue Ball and Other Factors Affecting English
  • Author: (Paul Kenyon)
  • Published: 12/28/2012 9:11:08 AM
  • Last Updated: 10/22/2016 11:47:55 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)