Break-Off

General Points

Set the cue ball close to the edge of the D. Although the shot is actually easier to get the red in baulk with the cue ball not on the right or left spots in the D, this tends to push the red near to the side cushion after the break and leaves an easy cannon for your opponent. By setting the cue ball on the end spot in the D you will probably keep the red away from the side cushion.

Play a thick half-ball and the thicker the better, within reason. This will keep the red away from the side cushion. If you play the red thin, you will cut the red to the side cushion, which makes the cannon easier for your opponent, as it becomes a big target.

Try to leave the cue ball on the side cushion to leave your opponent a difficult cannon.

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Stringing

Who breaks off is decided by 'stringing'. Both players place a cue ball anywhere on the baulk line and simultaneously play the ball off the top cushion, trying to get as near to the baulk cushion as possible. The player that wins the string has the options of choosing the cue ball that he would like to play with and also choosing whether to break or not.

To break or not to break?

If you win the string, then you can choose whether to break or not. You will gain a slight advantage by breaking, but only if you are confident with the table conditions. If the table is strange or you are feeling a bit cold or under-confident with the conditions, let your opponent break.

The double baulk

It is possible to leave a double baulk after the break, by spotting the cue ball on the middle spot in the D and playing a thin half-ball . However, this should not be attempted unless you are very familiar with the table, as it is not worth the risk. The shot will often go wrong and you will leave your opponent in.

Standard shot

Set the cue ball on the end spot in the D, concentrating on a thick half-ball contact. Use a pace to get the red into baulk. Try to keep the red off the side cushion and to get the cue ball on the side cushion.


Practice Targets

Beginner 4/10

A successful shot is one with the red in baulk and the white in a position that is not an easy pot from hand. You will quickly learn to achieve a moderate success rate.

Club Player 7/10

An average player will be able to get the red in baulk but may leave an easy cannon or even a pot white.

Professional 9/10

This is an easy shot for the top players and they would expect to keep the white near the side cushion and the red away from it. However, the shot does go wrong occasionally, mainly because it is the first shot of the match and players are cold.


Double baulk

Once you have practiced the standard shot, have a go at the double baulk shot. Do not practice it for long, just convince yourself that it is not worth the risk!


Remember

  • Play a thick half-ball
  • Concentrate on the pace
  • Try to get the white on the cushion
  • Try to keep the red off the cushion

Common Mistakes

  • Too thin a contact
  • Incorrect pace
  • Leaving a pot white on