Back in the nineties Efren Reyes surprised a lot of pool players when he told
an interviewer that he loves to watch pool and often adds to his knowledge while
watching inexperienced players. He explained that because great players tend to
manage the table and solve problems rather predictably, he can learn more from
watching bad players who cause the balls to move in ways one would never see
while watching pros. So he is able to observe something that the rest of us
might consider "wrong," convert it to a useful skill and then add it
to his famous bag of tricks.
I also like to watch pool and, though I prefer to watch the best players,
have nevertheless watched countless hours of pool as presented by many players
who are somewhat less than stellar. Mostly, perhaps because I lack Efren's
vision and imagination, the bulk of what I've seen among untrained players has
gone by the wayside as I fail to find much use for it. Recently however, while
watching a recreational player shooting alone, I happened to look up at just the
right moment to see shot B in the diagram.
Since the shot in question is a close relative of the more commonly seen kiss
shot on the left side of the table, or shot A, let's begin the discussion there.
Although we may see this shot in any pool game, it's mostly an 8-Ball shot,
employed in situations like the one pictured, where we have no good shot on the
solid ball because of the striped ball blocking its path to the pocket. The
informed player knows to bank the solid off of the side rail to make contact
with the inside of the stripe as shown with the shaded ball. The dotted line
going to the pocket is perpendicular to the line of centers at the moment of
contact. Good 8-Ball players know the shot, and competitive bar-table players
shoot it routinely, owing to tighter traffic and bigger pockets on the bar
tables. There's no real technique for the shot except to note how the balls must
make contact and to remember not to play it with too much speed. Set it up as
shown and practice it until you're pocketing the solid ball at least 50% of the
Although Shot B is essentially the same shot, I must confess that I had never
seen it, or noted seeing it, until my recent experience. The only difference
between the new shot and shot A is that the ball we use to kiss the solid ball
into the pocket this time is not the obstruction. In this case the obstructing
striped ball remains undisturbed while we bank the solid ball past it, off of
the other solid ball and into the pocket. Here, the kiss also frees up that
second solid ball to facilitate a run out. The setup you see is identical to the
setup that confronted the player I was watching when I first saw the shot, with
the break out included. Again, the dotted line going to the pocket is
perpendicular to the balls' line of centers at the precise moment of contact. As
with Shot A, practice this one with manageable speed. And because it's likely to
look unfamiliar, you will want to spend time with it to feel comfortable. I was
fortunate enough to have another table at my disposal when I first saw it and
began practicing it immediately.
Although the shots we see here require no special skills or techniques they
can easily elude any player who hasn't seen them, especially Shot B. And while
I'm certain that I cannot be the first person to present this shot, I do not
recall ever seeing anyone play it prior to recently, not even a professional.
So, from now on, I'm going to pay more attention when I'm watching, no matter
who's at the table.