Welcome to a the continuing study of
This section is devoted to billiard study material that would normally be includ-
ed in a Billiard Atlas Book On Systems and Techniques, probably Volume V
---and now offered as a free site to the players of the world.
New information will be added on a regular basis. Hope you enjoy the varied
areas of study.
Shown below, is an uncomplicated system donated by Turkey's Murat Tuzul.
The cue ball employs a dead ball hit (one cue tip above center). Avoid a
follow-through stroke and use soft speed.
The first rail hit spot (point of aim) = the cue ball origin number minus the (third
desired hit spot plus 50% of that number).
Use the rail edge for all numbers. Note that the first rail hit spot of zero is dif-
ficult to hit (on the short rail) --- use a hit spot of about 2 instead of the exact
This method can determine the desired path off an object ball.
One cue tip of side english, can alter the 3rd rail hit point by one diamond, but this
needs practice. This system can locate many cue ball paths.
Along the cue ball’s horizontal axis , a safe maximum hit spot is where the
center of the cue tip is 18mm away from the cue ball’s center---a carom
ball has similar results.
The diameter for a pool ball is 56mm diameters, and 61mm diameters for
the carom ball.
The cue ball’s miscue area is at 24mm away from center ball, and miscues
are sporadic at 21mm. Some miscues were evident at under 20mm on the
smaller ball---great care must be taken with chalking the cue tip.
The “double hit” area on a cue ball, is about 20mm from the cue ball
center---the first hit determines the initial cue ball english---the second hit
may act like a brake, thus slowing the initial desired english---this double
hit can only be observed with a high speed camera.
This entire “double hit” subject is difficult to assess since this test was
shot by the robot, and Iron Willie has a very firm arm grip on the cue
butt---thus, the stroke does not slow down.
In actual play, a player’s back hand slows down during the tip-ball con-
tact, and they may not have this second hit---each player slows his stroke
Note: Several factors were involved in the above test---level cue---full
follow through stroke---medium cue ball speed--- normal cue ball coating
---a cue stick that has a medium stiffness---various brand cues were used in
the tests---a 12mm cue tip was employed and the results depend somewhat
on the tip diameter.
Note: The below information is confirmed by a high speed camera, one that
takes a maximum of 12,000 frames per second---tests were conducted by
experts Bob Jewett and Michael Shamos---others taking part were Walt
Harris, Jim Buss and Hans de Jager. Test location was at Clawson Cue Com-
pany, home of the Predator cues, during the week of November 2, 1998.
The Bridge Hand
A good billiard shot will fail if not made from a solid bridge, which is the
foundation upon which a player builds his or her stroke.
With good support on all sides, a three-finger bridge should form a solid
tripod for support. A "closed" bridge is needed but an "open" bridge can
be used occasionally.
Comfort is one of the aspects you have to deal with in making a bridge
and at first may be uncomfortable, but not so after a prolonged practice.
Once you get used to your solid foundation, you will never have to make
further uncomfortable changes.
How tightly your bridge grips the shaft is a matter of personal taste, how-
ever, it is best to retain slight contact on all sides of the shaft. If yours
seem too tight, use a bridge glove to allow the cue to move smoothly
through the fingers.
"The more contact you maintain with the shaft, the less
likely your stroke is to deviate when you actually execute a shot."
If you start from the basics and adjust to the bridge that works for you,
you will have a solid foundation and can then move on to other aspects
of the stroke and game without worrying about the bridge.
Ken Tewksbury, BCA Advanced Level Instructor
Below, are two graphic examples---courtesy of the master instructors of Japan.
Bridge height adjustment
Blomdahl once spoke about cue characteristics and mentioned that
the key ingredient in determining whether a cue hits well is the
shaft. He went on to say he might go through a hundred shafts
before finding a good one.
Cuemaker Dennis Dieckman mentioned that he heard Kobayashi
actually would go through several hundred shafts at Japan’s
Helmstetter's factory, not just looking at them but playing with
them all before picking the three or four that he would use. Sang
Lee also tests many shafts before selecting one. Komori on the
other hand would take whatever shafts Helmstetter gave him and
play with them without comment.
The problem with a wood shaft is that it has properties that are
not homogeneous. Some parts of the wood shaft are stronger and
have more density than other parts---because of the grain.
An example of this shown when a piece of wood is splintered and
the broken portion follows the curved grain line.
This grain line may not have the hitting quality of the shaft in the
actual center of the shaft, but off-center.
If fiberglass or metal were used for shafts, it would not have a
grain to deal with. The shaft would hit evenly throughout and the
center of the shaft density would never be off-center---but a
wood shaft is much more desirable.
Dennis further mentioned that his order of grain importance is
tightness, straightness, then color. Dennis further mentioned that
it’s very important for a player to get at least two shafts with a
custom cue and that they be weight matched.
Shafts can vary in density and thus in finished weight. Player’s
usually use the shaft that most closely matches the feel or
balance they are looking for and seldom use the other because of
the weight difference. They do not realize that the two shafts
may not be matched and just use the one that "feels better.”
From a different perspective, Raymond Ceulemans once commented
on what is the most important part of the cue. "The only thing that
matters to me is the tip. Give me a good tip on a broomstick and I
would still beat everybody."
Bob Byrne related a story where Ceulemans once said that when
he found a good tip, he would remove it from his shaft and save it
for future use since he favored a good tip that is broken in.
As new cue information arrives it will be added here---check back
A Good Tip
During the 2001 Las Vegas World Cup, many of the world’s best 3-C
player’s were surveyed on what cue tips they use, along with other
It seems that most Belgium players stayed with tradition, which is to
use a smaller tip size, while most other top players use tip sizes bet-
ween 11.5 and 12.0 mm.
Type Shaft type
Bitalis 11.4 Mori Hard Extra Stiff
Blomdahl 12.0 Mori Medium Varies with table
Ceulemans 12.0 Triangle Medium Stiff
DeBacker 11.6 Mori Medium Medium Stiff
Dielis 9.5 Chandivert Hard Stiff
Habraken 11.0 LePro Medium Stiff
Jaspers 11.7 Mori Medium Stiff
Leppens 10.5 Mori Medium Extra Stiff
Piedrabuena 12.0 Mori Medium Medium Stiff
Sang Lee 12.0 Mori Medium Medium Stiff
Sayginer 12.0 Mori Medium Stiff
Theriaga 12.0 Mori Medium Stiff
Sanetti 12.0 Chandivert Medium Medium Stiff
While all were quizzed on their tip size and shaft configuration selections, Dick
Jaspers summed up this subject best by stating that the 12 mm size was best for
power shots, while the 11.5 size handled cue ball spin best---an 11.7 mm tip was
In my 3-C travels, it seems that the average 3-C player does not use a cue that
has tip and shaft configurations that compares to the above.
Incidently, most new cues come with inexpensive tip material.
The stiff shaft allows for much better cue ball deflection, thus much better object
ball hits---same for 12mm tip sizes---yet, having a good feel for cue ball spin, is
For those players who desire cue ball slide, a certain product is available
and is listed below---coatings are not to affect the cushion edge, or the
The 3-M corporation has one liquid as the cleaner and the other liquid
as the final finish---the cleaner is named “Finesse-It” and the final finish
is named “3-M Liquid Polish, Clear Coat Face”---this is a two coat
operation and can be hand buffed or machine buffed, to a final gloss---
usually found at automobile supply stores.
Corner Pocket in Ft Lauderdale Florida, and Master Billiards in New
York, use this type of ball conditioning.
Top pocket billiard players are known for not liking this type of ball “slide”
---someday, somewhere, a 9-ball event will feature this type of cue ball
slide, and the locals will have the advantage---maybe China ?
Ten Second Lesson
At the 1999 Las Vegas World Cup I asked Raymond Ceulemans
what would be the most important "stroke advice" he would offer
the average player.
"Try to move only the arm below the elbow and do not use much
wrist for most shots", was his reply..
Much can go wrong if you do not follow his advice. This has a lot to do
with losing control of the shot and becoming a better player.
It’s easy to classify billiard players; those who stroke the ball correctly,
and those who do not. For example, most players move their head or
upper body as they strike the cue ball…notice this when observing others.
The player must stay motionless until the cue ball is gone. Peeking at the
shot too quickly causes problems such as slightly pulling up and not follow-
ing through completely.
Shoot most shots without using much wrist, especially short angle shots.
The forearm and hand work as a unit and have much more control of the
cue ball with better results.
Once practiced, your stroke will magically improve.
A Ladder Tournament
River City Miracle
In Wichita, I selfishly organized these locals recently using Bondzinski's
ladder club concept so that they could see their averages and have their
hearts on improvement. It worked too. There are 14 players. In one month
they've played over 100 games and the housemen are cleaning the table
everyday. Without 4 pounds of chalk, they play longer and rather well.
Then, I make available the Atlas books for those that stand still long enough
to read a select page or two. Most will.
Those of us that rely on the books and our working our way through them
(one new thing at a time) "call our shots" to each other, so we can compare
and discuss the many approaches. It's a minor miracle, right here in River
City. One guy will say, "Rising Sun," another offers, "Dead Ball here", "Sid",
"Walt's," "Sang Lee," "Plus," all those familiar names in the books.
Here's the punch-line: "these writings have given even Wichita a body of infor-
mation that is improving play and interest in the game...not just for students and
3 cushion fanatics, like me, but for the newcomers and converted pool players
in town. The way these books play a part in the improvement of the game is
probably greater than Walt will ever know."
Author of the above, David from Wichita, Kansas , December 12, 1998
<DKS411@aol.com> Ladder expert, Frank Bondzinski,1301 Ironwood Dr.
Mount Prospect, IL 60056.
Simple Reverse-the-Rail System (Cho-dan-cho)
One of Korea's World Class Players CHUL MIN KIM donated this simple
reverse-the rail system.
Table and ball conditions vary so you may have to adjust a little....a level cue
with a full follow through stroke is needed....shoot softly for desired cue ball
spin....Cho-dan-cho makes billiard life easier.
Q-ball at 20 on short rail---Object balls at 10 on short rail.
20 + 10 = 30 Aim point on long rail is 30.
99 to 1
Many thanks to Sancho, the Frenchman, for locating this fourth rail cue ball path
---which originates from the short rail (A)--- to a target on the opposite short rail
(B)---with numbers as shown.
The odds of scoring a billiard here are 99 to 1 !
Example: Cue ball (Q) origin = 25---fourth rail destination = 30.
Select a point on the origin rail (A) that is opposite the fourth rail target on (B)
(which is 30)---then divide by 2 (which is 15), this is the base line.
Formula is: Origin on rail (A) is 25, minus 15 = 10---aim at 10 on rail (B).
Cue ball origins from 15 to 0 are outside the system limits
Antonios Gallopoulos, a 3-Cushion systems player from Greece, donated this
unique "Backout" system.
If cue ball is at position "5 or 12" and first ball (Red) is at position "5 - 3" the
first rail hit point is 5.
If cue ball is at position "5 or 12" and first ball (Red) is at position "7 + 4" the
first rail hit point is 12.
For other short rail cue ball origins put together the origin rail multiplier and first
ball (red ball) number and make the calculation e.g. as in the drawing. (cue ball
origin number is at 3x).
3 x 7 + 4 = 25 when red ball is at position "7 + 4".
3 x 5 - 3 = 12 when red ball is at position "5 - 3".
Two Thirds System
Here's another short angle gem from Greece (where the angle into the first
rail is less then 45 degrees).
Antonios Gallopoulos has simplified the Billiard Atlas's "two thirds" system
---and it becomes "3/2"
Suppose we want an arrival at diamond 3---multiply 3 x 3/2 = 4.5
On the line 4.5 to 0, find a spot on the wall , aim the cue ball---et viola !!
Center Cue ball hit---soft stroke---spot on the wall distance is important---
for distance, use the distance from the cue ball's origin rail to the first rail.
Latest Word Note: With practice, a player can use this aim point and add one,
two, or three tips of side english to the cue ball---each tip of side english adds
1/3 of diamond to the third rail hit point---an excellent drill for accuracy---note
that a center cue hit can spell path trouble on certain tables.
A short angle example is shown here:
Billiard Posters from Professorqball
Thanks to Paul Frankel, the billiard world can finally see large colored posters
showing "systems and techniques"
One poster shows the important "Ball System"---the other shows the "Bernie
System"---both nice to know.