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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Bert's column (NED)

Ignore that second chance

Posted by on March 13, 2017

Ignore that second chance

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The "double chance" in 3-cushion is a coin with two sides. An angel face with a smile is on the front of the coin, and on the back there's a mean little devil. The coin can get you out of trouble, or get you into it.   

Is there a basic rule, is there a way to know if the position on the table makes it okay to speculate, to hedge your bets? When can we shoot and think: I'll get it THIS way, and if not, I might still get it THAT way?  

Yes, there is such a rule of thumb, and it's delightfully simple. If your two chances are adjacent, if they are like an A and a B, like an 11 and a 12, you're fine. Shoot. If there's a gap between the two lines, if your chances are like an A and a C, or like an 11 and a 13, you're in trouble. Ignore that second chance. 

Sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? Shouldn't every mildly advanced 3-cushion player be able to use that principle to his advantage? A wise man once said: "In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is." It's one thing to know the rule of thumb, another to recognize the moments when the little devil is about to trick you into making a mistake.  

This is what happens when you are lining up a shot, and you are uncertain if you should go for line A or line C. You will try to get the mix right: how much of the second ball to hit, how much draw or follow, how much speed, how much english. But the calculating machine that is your brain will be programmed with information about both A and C! You'll give it a little more to get to 13, a little less because you want 11 also.

It doesn't take a genius to predict the outcome of your shot: B 12.

"How can I miss through such a tiny hole? Again and again!"

That's because it's the line you chose, and you hit it perfectly.    


second chance01


In the first diagram, there's a long-long-short to the red, but it's not the correct shot. Much better is, to play long-long-short-long to the red. It looks like the two chances are very close, but believe me, they are not adjacent, which means there is a miss in the middle. What you need to do before you hit the yellow, is get that 3-rail line out of your head. It will seduce you, tease you, cheat you, and you'll play too thin. Long-long-short-long-miss.


second chance02


The position in the second diagram is a little more complicated. You need to get rid of the kiss by sending the yellow into the long rail, left of the red. As a result, you are not free to choose how much of the yellow to hit. But still, there is a possible long-short-long, and a possible long-short-long-long. 

Play it with a touch more english, a fraction lower in your ball, and you'll get the three-railer. Slightly higher and the cue ball will curve into the bottom right corner to make it a shorter, four-rail line. Your job is to pick one, and completely forget about the other line. If this one goes in the hole, chances are you've not made a decision. It's not bad luck. It's bad play.


second chance03


The third diagram is another example of: know what you want. If you don't know where you're sailing, there's no wind that will help you. Avoid the mediocre option here (long-long-short-red), because there are two reasonably good ones: long-long-long-red, and long-long-long-long-red. The l-l-s-red needs a very precise hit, and you can't make it a combination shot with one of the other two. Second and third option however, CAN be played as a double-chance: with the right speed and not much curve you can miss this after three rails and almost certainly make it after four.  

You don't have to be a strong player to spot double chances and take legitimate advantage of them. But here's the next level: if you have acquired the technical and mental discipline to turn down, REJECT a devilish two-way shot and go for the single ball instead, you've not only become a better player but also a better person.  


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