SPORTING Q&A

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The Independent Online
Q. Are the pockets on tables used by professional snooker players in TV tournaments larger or smaller than those used by amateurs in clubs?

A. All snooker table pockets are 3.5 inches wide at the point where the ball drops. On championship specification tables used by professionals. the "cut" of the pocket, that is the angle of cushion leading to the point where the ball drops, is more acute, giving less margin for error when potting. A ball which strikes the cushion first on such a table is more likely to "jaw" in the pocket and refuse to drop than on an average club table where the cut of the pockets is more forgiving. So it is harder to pot on a professional table.

DAVID MORSELL

London SE16

A. The width of the pockets is laid down by the Snooker and Billiards Control Council. The council supplies a standard stamped template each year. The width should be 3.5inches at the fall where the ball drops. If a maximum 147 is to be ratified, remeasurement must take place. Though the entry width is the same for both professional and amateur players, the contour of a cross-section through the cushion on the professional table shows that it is radiused to the ball's shape. In other words, the ball will go into the pocket with a greater degree of error. The diameter of a snooker ball is 21/16in and due to the cushion height being above the ball's centre, it fits further under the cushion due to the cushion's radius. The effect is that "true pocket width" is actually greater for the games we see on television, it is not just that the top players make it seem that way.

TIM MICKLEBURGH

Grimsby

(Which of the above, seemingly contradictory answers, is correct? Write to Q and A at the address below if you can shed further light on this subject)

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