Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Snooker Dog is Dead

Sad news for snooker fans, dogs lovers and everyone who has a heart not made of stone. Blue, the snooker dog from Britian's Got Talent died from a tractor accident. To make it more tragic, the tractor was driven by Blue's owner...

In Blue's memory:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Play Snooker till your 100?

In a once in a life time coincidence I ran into two stories about two different men who share two things in common: both of them were born in June 1908 (which means they celebrated their 100th anniversary last month) and both of them share an active interest in snooker.

The younger one, Joe Auty of West Ardsley, England had quit playing snooker not so long ago, but he took his incredible potting skill outside, to the crown green bowling field, and stayed there. Fred Moore, of Oak Tree Courts, who has about a week fore on Joe Auty, still visits the local snooker club every Friday. As he said to the Hunts Post "They always say you silly fool you can't play snooker, but I'm okay once I get to the table...its just getting myself there."

Unbelievable. So what do you say? Just a coincidence or is there something in snooker that guarantees living longer than the average?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Does Office Pool pull away the Fun?

Today, the day after Euro 2008 final match, is pay day in may offices in Europe. This festive occasion made me think about the ritual called the office pool.

A recent study, taken by Professor Stephen Nowlis and Associate Professor Naomi Mandel of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business, shows that even those who grabbed all the other employees dough underwent feelings of discomfort, emotional uncertainty and inability to enjoy the event. And if we are talking about a long event, such as the 16-weeks season of Survivor, we are talking about a never-ending misery…

In other words, the feeling of "anticipated regret" is a much more aching experience than simply not giving the correct prediction and loosing the pool. The research arrives to the conclusion that the only way to enjoy watching a reality show or a major sports event is by sinking into the succession of images on the TV screen, without trying to predict the winner.

What office pool has got to do with pool, as in pool game, you are probably wondering now. Well, pool game is a sports event you can wager on (and lose all the fun), isn't it?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pool and Gambling from the Duchess Eyes

Pool and gambling always have been associated with one another. Obviously, not everyone is happy with it; pool associations prefer the term billiard and pool players insist on being referred to as sportspeople. For women pool players the battle is double: they do not only have to prove that pool players are as hard workers as any other athletes, they also do it in a masculine, often hostile, environment.

Take Allison Fisher for example. The leading 9-ball pool player talked with R.A. Dyer, the righteously appraised billiards writer, about maintaining the classy image of pool in the action packed and testosterone filled air of pool tournaments such as the Derby City Classic.

The gambling association of pool especially harms the sports when major sponsorships are called for, says the Duchess of Doom in the interview, and notes that almost every pool movie ever produced was dealing with pool hustling in fishy pool halls instead of playing respectable tournaments. Pool tournaments, she adds, is a much safer place for a girl who wants to improve her pool skills, than a pool room full of sharks where once you win you've got to have a body guard watching your back on your way home.

Allison Fisher "The Duchess of Doom" at the 2007 US Open final

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pool Accessories

When you are playing pool off-line, does your bridge hand often get too sweaty to grip? Does your glasses frame disturb you from seeing the full picture? Lucky for you, greater minds have found solutions to these issues.

Pool Gloves

Wearing gloves while playing pool often feels awkward and makes it difficult on the bridge hand, on the other hand, pun not intended, bare hands tend to get too sweaty, and the result is a chain reaction that starts with the cue stick slide and ends with a miss. Nancy Cote special "ungloves" or "finger slides" were designed to prevent such occurrences. This unique pool accessory is made of breathable fabric and it covers only the part of the hand in touch with the cue at a closed or an open bridge, i.e. the middle and the index fingers, the web between them and the thumb. The pool finger slides come in 4 different sizes and 4 colors, and they are priced at 15$ a pair.

Pool Glasses

Being a bespectacled pool player is not easy: when aiming the glasses slip down your nose, when trying to peep at the cue ball above the lenses, a blurry image of the pool table appears in front of your eyes. So, if you don't want to wear contact lenses or look like Dennis Taylor, special billiard eyeglasses can solve this problem. There are several products designed especially to deal with short sighted pool players. Most of them offer more or less the same thing: undersized frame, large spectacles (usually start from the middle of the forehead all the way down to the middle of the nose), higher bridge and those handle extensions to protect the glasses from falling or moving out of place (as in children's glasses).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Billiard Players Mental Injuries

Though billiard is one of the safest sports, professional pool and snooker players are not 100% bullet proof. Not long ago I mentioned the Repetitive Strain Injury, known as RSI, the most common pool injury, which also attacks people with keyboard attached to their fingertips. And in an amazing coincidence I read about the mental injuries typical to snooker players.

The World Snooker Championship, which ended yesterday with the triumph of Ronnie "The Rocket" O'sullivan, drew millions of viewers mainly from the UK and China. So while the home viewers were fascinated to O'Sullivan, or whoever was playing at the moment clearing the table, his match opponent had to do the same thing. Or in the Telegraph's words: "…the mental strain of being forced to sit powerlessly through your opponent's century break can scarcely be underestimated. Protocol demands that you have to sit there and watch it… Plugging yourself into an iPod, or reading a newspaper, would probably be frowned upon…"

It is not surprising why top ranked snooker players (O'Sullivan among them) tend to suffer from clinical depression, while others develop drugs and alcohol dependency.

But that's nothing comparing to the comment committed by one Wilson, who witnessed, a rare but apparently true, snooker physical injury: "Playing a shot, on a rather old table, his hand ran along the side of the table and a large splinter of wood came off and was embeded between his thumb and forefinger. He did miss the pot."


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Billiard Balls Continue to Evolve...

If the first billiard balls were made of wood, elephants died to create their advanced color-proof variation and today's biliard balls are made of plastic, how will the next generation of billiard look like?
No kidding, scientists at the Royal Institute of Medford, UK found a way to grow hair on a billiard ball. And if billiard balls can entertain lice on their dreadlocks, even the most follicularly challenged dude can hide a comb in jeans' pocket.

(and thanks to the Spoof News for the inspiration and entertainment)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Billiard and Muscles, Billiard vs. Golf

And more on the subject of billiard and muscles, this time I'll start with a quote of Richard Carrier, the sports columnist of Powhatan Today:

"…golfers actually have physical skill levels equal to that of billiard players. They both have the ability to make a ball curve, the ability to read the speed of the green/felt and good hand-eye coordination. The only difference is that, with the golfer, success is in the tools he uses and, more often than not, he who has the more expensive tools/toys wins. And billiard players cut down an insignificant number of trees."

And once again, billiard players get the upper hand; playing billiard requires you neither to build an iron body nor to spend tons of money on expensive equipment!

(Only Kidding; it is known that the billiard pros must have a Spartan training routine, which often requires a home pool table and that my friends isn't cheap at all! But seriously, the guy had a smart point, I couldn't say it any better.)

And speaking of golf and billiard, here's another analogy between the two types of sports:

"…snooker (and golf) are the easiest sports to fix. Both are individual sports often gambled upon and in both of them missing a shot does not have to look that obvious. But unlike golf players who’ve been practicing their sports on green grass among white collars, the natural habitats of snooker players are smoky billiards parlor swarming with dubious characters."

(from Play89 blog who comments to L A Odicean weblog)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Play Pool for your Tuition Fees

If neither your brains nor your muscles can gain you a college scholarship, you still got hope. Assuming you know how to play pool. The University of Akron, Ohio has founded a unique scholarship program for extremely talented pool players.

Founded by the UA alumni Barry Lefkowitz and a former billiards champion of the institute, the program will cover $1,000 tuition fees or books of three students each fall or spring semester. Due to his generous contribution to the university billiards culture, the billiards parlor is named after him.

If you reckon your pool shooting skill are scholarship worthy, you can reveal them at the upcoming Lefkowitz scholarship tournament scheduled to Saturday, March 29 at the Barry Lefkowitz Billiard Parlor. The 9-ball pool tournament offers $1,000 prize to the winner, $500 to the finalist and $250 prize to the semi finalist.

Unfortunately, no one pays you to play online pool yet...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Is Pool Bad for your Masculine Image?

Georgina Chang, the host presenter of the Guinness 9 Ball Tour on STAR Sports, writes to The Star Online about the low sex appeal of pool, especially when compared to more sweaty, muscular and masculine sports such as football, car racing and even swimming.

You must admit that her points are quite convincing. Pool players are not the typical alpha males, yet playing pool has some advantages to your self esteem.

On one hand, you don't have to look like this to play pool:

On the other hand, pool players get to wear suits and compete in air conditioned halls and they hardly ever face this kind of danger:

And to be serious for a moment, the level of concentration demanded from pool players is very high or in Chang's words: "They need a computer-like brain that works in lightning speed to compute and process the many permutations one can take to pocket a ball… under the pressure of just three minutes".

Monday, February 18, 2008

How to avoid common pool injuries

Speaking of pains, strains and wrist aches, what about you pool players? Do you feel any physical inconvenience following hours of pool shooting? As the online pool shark that I am, I must admit that my right palm tends to hurt sometimes from cueing with the mouse, but what does a real pool cue can do to your body?

In fact, professional pool players suffer from the same syndrome as grey mouse people. Repetitive Strain Injuries also known as RSI or more specifically Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon following chronic overuse of a specific body area. This type of injury is common to most athletes and may appear at several body parts mainly the lower and upper limbs.

So, now what? How can you avoid the inevitable future of unbearable pain? If you play pool, as in real-life pool, they say by using proper pool technique and some special pool accessories can help. If you play online pool, as in playing wii, maybe you should take longer breaks between one pool session to another. (or at least do not run to type all about it).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Playing Wii can risk your wrists

Lee Harvey, an osteopath of Weston Chiropractic Clinic in Weston Mercury, UK, says he's been treating patients who suffer from neck and wrist pains after playing Wii games, especially older gamer who stretch their limit, literally, to give a fight to the younger competitors.

As an expert in the field of Wii pains and complaints, Harvey wrote a brief guide to Wii gamers. In the do's section he suggests:

Straighten up the wrists and keep them in the same level as the elbows
Play right in front of the screen

And in the don's section he warns the gamers from:

Playing over 20 successive minutes
Gripping the controller forcefully

I here by give credit to the Online Edition of The Weston Mercury.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sharks Serve Drinks to Pool Sharks

Hockey players found an original way to thank their sponsors. Continue reading to find out what it has to do with pool.

Members of the American Hockey League Worcester Sharks served as bartenders for one night at the Boston Billiard Club, one of the league's proud sponsors. This gratitude gesture took place on Saturday night, January 19, right after the Sharks game against the Providence Bruins at the DCU Center, a game in which they eventually lost 4-3.

With its selection of Brunswick Gold Crown, and large TV sets Boston Billiard Club is one of the top pool halls in Worcester, New England and a leading entertainment destination for local sports fans. On Saturday night, the disappointed fans of the Worcester Sharks had a unique opportunity to drown their sorrows in drinks mixed by their favorite Hockey stars. And it sure ain't a common comfort for sports fans!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What a way to get rid of your billiards table...

Two guys in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic had to chop down their billiard table after both men's hands got stuck inside the table while looking for lost billiards balls. Just like me, the folks thought it was funny, but spending too much time motionless they had to use their spare hands to call the fire squad, which had to slice the billiards table to set the men hands' free.

Ha, what a relief. It reminds the time I had to cut off a straw chair when my cat's got his head stuck. :-)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On Billiards and Physics

What sets apart a natural born pool player from the average one? On top of the obvious gifts (focused eye, steady hand and good correlation between them), a pool player usually has an intuitive understanding of physics.

In an interview to Frontline – India's National Magazine, Sheldon Lee Glashow, co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and the proud owner of a home antique billiards table, talks about his upcoming book on the relations between billiards and physics. Prof. Glashow bases the billiards part of the book on his past experience as a student who has been spending long hours at the university pool room studying the movements of billiards balls.

"Physics and the Game of Billiards" will discuss "variety of mathematical methods and applies them to the motions and impacts of hypothetical spherical bodies" such as the interactions between billiards balls, cue tips, billiards table rails during a pool game. The book intends to be approachable to every pool fan, including those who've majored in arts, but its main objective is to introduce mathematical physics theories to students in a very vivid way.