Monthly Archives: February 2010

Miss on the pro side and just miss?

Jim Loy has one of the best pool and billiards websites I’ve seen.  It’s look and feel is from 1997, which I love, because it proves that content is king.

In this article, he  discusses the concept of missing a shot  “thin”, here’s his diagram and description:


Here’s a tough situation; both of you are shooting the eight ball, and you have a tough cut. Some of the pros say that if you have to miss the shot, miss it too thin (the light green line here), rather than too thick (red line). The reason is that after the cue ball has gone back up table, you haven’t sold the farm when you miss.

In most of the discussions I’ve seen about “missing on the pro side”, the object ball (8-ball here) is closer to the short rail than it is to the long rail.  When this is the case it’s easier to make the ball on the “non-pro” side – you have a better chance if you undercut it:


I’m using the same layout here, but showing shot-paths that “miss by less”.   You can see that the angle of approach is equal for both balls (relative to the pocket – see the black centerline) , however the undercut shot (red line) produces a gentler, obtuse angle of reflection, allowing softly hit shots to be pocketed in off the jaws of the pocket.  The angle of reflection for the green line is acute, if you miss you miss.

So it’s a compromise: you have a better chance of making a shot with on the “non-pro” side, but if you do miss, you will probably leave your opponent an easier shot.  Pool is filled with these trade-offs, the longer you play the more you discover subtleties like this, which can drive you crazy but also keep you interested.

Kitchen Confidential, circa 1933


Orwell’s squalorous masterpiece “Down and Out in Paris and London”  was a precursor to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”.   Both deal in the frisson that comes from learning the dirty origins of  high-class restaurant food.  Orwell has been revered as THE objective dry-eyed chronicler of modern life by writers like Andrew Sullivan, so it surprised me to read melodramatic passages such as this:

“The cook had a crise de nerfs at six and another at nine; they came on so regularly that one could have told the time by them.  She would flop down on the dustbin, begin weeping hysterically, and cry out that never, no never had she thought to come to such a life as this; her nerves would not stand it; she had studied music at Vienna; she had a bedridden husban to support, etc. etc.”

It reads like a storyboard for a cartoon, I can picture a little cloud of dust rising up when the cook flops down on the dustbin.   Reminds me a little of Catcher in the Rye where Holden Caulfield talks about shaking hands with a guy who “tries to break all forty of your fingers”.  No one much talks about Orwell the entertainer.