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View Full Version : Forget "simple" - think "reliable"



Ross
11-09-2002, 01:05 PM
Recently the issue came up about the validity of the advice to "keep it simple." This led to a debate that was partly confused by the different meanings of the word "simple."

A "simple" cue ball route can mean:
1. direct - that would be the shortest route possible or as few rails as possible
But it can also mean:
2. easy to execute reliably

The different definitions sometimes describe the same route in pool, but often they don't, especially in 9-ball. Since the "reliable" criterion is the one that counts in winning it is always good advice to say "look for the most reliable route."

The example of 1-rail vs. multiple rail position or kick routes is an example of this distinction. In 9-ball, one rail routes are often more difficult to execute because they are sensitive to cue ball english and speed.

In a previous post, Mike pointed out an example of a 3 rail route for getting from the 8 to the 9 ball.

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If you have any doubt, try his route on a pool table 20 times and then try a one rail route 20 times. I believe you will end up with decent shape on the 9 more often with the 3 railer. If you try a one rail route, you will find it very easy to overshoot or undershoot your target and end up without a good shot on the 9. That is because multiple rail shots have greater margins of error for ball speed and english than 1 railers do.

So which shot is simpler? The 1-railer is more direct. The 3-railer is easier to execute reliably. Depends on your definition of simple.

And this shot is not an exception as some have implied. They come up almost every game in 9-ball. Allison Fisher once mentioned that she had to learn to quit relying so much on 1 rail routes to improve her pool game.

Here is another example:
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Try this kick 20 times as a 1-railer then 20 times as a 2-railer. You will find it much easier to hit repeatedly using the 2-rail kick.

Or try getting position on this 9-ball using one rail and then using two.

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In all of these cases, the multiple rail shot is "simpler" in terms of being easier to execute reliably, yet none of them is the "simple" shot in terms of being most direct. In other situations the more direct shot will also be the more reliable. It just depends on the shot. So why don't we just talk about more reliable shots and drop the ambiguous term "simple" from these discussions!

At least then we would be arguing about pool-related content (which routes are more reliable) and not semantics.

Rich R.
11-10-2002, 08:43 AM
Great post Ross. I think you hit the nail on the head and the difference between "simple" and "reliable" is just semantics.
Of course which shot is "simple" or more "reliable" ultimately rests on the individual players ability. Every player has strengths and weaknesses of their own. The correct shot choice for one player may be quite different than the correct shot choice for another player with different abilities. Therefore the discussion will continue.
Of course, in the end, the word "simple" has less letters than the word "reliable". Therefore, I will continue to keep it "simple". /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif
Rich R.

11-10-2002, 10:39 AM
The best advice I ever got, was to play with the natural roll of the cue ball when you can. An example of this is cutting a ball in the side and going around two or three rails back to the middle of the table. Some slow roll it or use reverse english to try to stop the cue ball. If you have to do something chancy to stop the cue ball then don't. It is better to let it go with control. You will be amazed how much easier it is to control the cue ball using it's natural angles then trying to fight with it.

11-10-2002, 11:13 AM
One of the greatest thing you learn through experience is what works, even when it does not. What I mean is, you may get bad results from a right decision and positive results from a bad decision. You need to learn the difference and trust yourself as to what is right. It is easy to be fooled and you are continually changing things with no end in sight. You never develop a game you trust. That is where the dogs spend most of their time.

Ross
11-10-2002, 12:44 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Rich R.:</font><hr> Great post Ross. I think you hit the nail on the head and the difference between "simple" and "reliable" is just semantics.
Of course which shot is "simple" or more "reliable" ultimately rests on the individual players ability. Every player has strengths and weaknesses of their own. The correct shot choice for one player may be quite different than the correct shot choice for another player with different abilities. Therefore the discussion will continue.
Of course, in the end, the word "simple" has less letters than the word "reliable". Therefore, I will continue to keep it "simple". /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif
Rich R. <hr></blockquote>

Hey Rich, how's it going?
So if you were coaching me in a match and you said take the simple shot, would you mean take the direct route or the easiest to execute route?

smfsrca
11-10-2002, 01:40 PM
I guess this is a discussion of semantics.
Actually, both terms are correct.
The simple way refers to the purity of the choice. The shot which requires the least amount of complexity in your stroke.
The reliable way refers to the ability to shoot the same shot repeatedly under different times and circumstances.
Usually the most reliable or repeatable choice is also the simplest or least complex.
Steve in CA

Alfie
11-10-2002, 05:32 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Ross:</font><hr> So if you were coaching me in a match and you said take the simple shot, would you mean take the direct route or the easiest to execute route? <hr></blockquote> I hope your coach would not be so vague. :-)

Ross
11-10-2002, 07:42 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Alfie:</font><hr> &lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote: Ross:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr&gt; So if you were coaching me in a match and you said take the simple shot, would you mean take the direct route or the easiest to execute route? &lt;hr&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt; I hope your coach would not be so vague. :-) <hr></blockquote>

Good point - bad example on my part. Although in the past I've had coaching that would have been improved by more vagueness! Don't get much coaching these days, though.

I was just pointing out that whenever someone gives the general advice in pool to "keep it simple" it usually leads to a predictable and non-informative debate. It has happened on RSB several times as well. Someone will take issue with this advice, pointing out common shots where going two or three rails is a better choice than one rail. Then someone else will say "well it just a general rule, and there are exceptions." The response then is "well these aren't exceptions, they come up all the time." and the beat goes on.... Nothing is learned and the thread dies.

If instructors (for example Sapolis, in this case) would instead give the general rule "always choose the "easier to execute" (reliable) route" there would be no arguments. Instead we could discuss which position routes are reliable. That is, which routes are hard to mess up.

My second point was that, contrary to what beginners in the game often think, multiple rail routes in 9-ball are quite often EASIER than more obvious direct routes. A beginner will look at a more experienced player doing a two- or three-rail kick and say "Wow, that was nice. I'm not good enough yet to do that." They don't realize that the more experienced player does the shot this way because they have learned that the 1 rail kick more difficult!.

Why multiple rail shots are less sensitive to errors in speed:

Everytime a ball hits a rail it loses a percentage of its speed. So, generally speaking, the more cushions the cue ball strikes, the easier it is to judge where it will stop. Say you hit a ball 10% harder than you plan to. If the ball hits no rails it will overshoot it's target by 21% (distance traveled is proportional to the square of the speed). Assume, for simplicity that hitting a rail reduces a balls speed by 50% If it hits 1 rail it will overshoot the target by 10.5%. If it hits 2 rails it will overshoot the target 5.25% and so on. So by using 2 rails, you've cut your position error by three-fourths, from about 20% to about 5%!

Why multiple rail shots tend to be less sensitive to errors in english than 1-rail shots :

Let's say you are trying a 2-rail kick. You shoot the cue ball into the right long rail at a 45 degree angle with running english, but you accidentally put more english than you intended. When the cue ball hits the long rail it will come off at a shallower angle than you intended, thus hitting the short rail to the right of where you planned. This alone would cause the cue ball to come back to the right of the intended line. However, the extra english will also cause it to rebound off the second rail at a shallower angle than planned, which will pull the cue ball path more to the left. Thus the effects of the extra english cancel tend to cancel each other out.

The exact degree to which these errors offset each other depends on the angle of approach, the speed of the hit and the distance of the target from the rails. But in all cases the errors work in opposite directions, so there is always some built-in attenuation of the error.

Conversely, a one rail kick where the cue ball approaches the rail at 70 to 90 degrees is highly sensitive to any unintended english. And there are no cancelling effects to help you out.

For all these reasons, the think of the rails as your friends. In many cases, as strange as it sounds, the more rails there are in your chosen path the more likely you are to end up with cue ball where you intended!

cheesemouse
11-10-2002, 09:14 PM
I think there is one consideration that hasn't been mentioned when deciding whether to use one rail or multi-rail shape and that is the 'getting on the line of shape as oppossed to having to crosssing the line of shape'. The margin for error is larger on the line of shape and this should be a major consideration in your shot selection.

Ludba
11-10-2002, 10:16 PM
good point. This is a little recognized part of position play. Across-the-line: miss small -&gt; bad shape. On-the-line: miss big -&gt; may still be ok.

Chris Cass
11-10-2002, 11:54 PM
Hi Ross,

Excellent post by the way. The better more experienced players use the rails also for two main reasons. One being, they can count on not scratching and another is it's easier to learn the speed of the table. Judging by what I'm reading I know you already know this. This is for those that might not realize why, they do it.

I've always said it's easier to make a two rail kick than a one rail because of the error of percentages. Taking a shot like this would be the case for one and although you don't count the soft rail. You would in this easy kick shot. Shooting this one rail has to be perfect but using the soft rail will make the percentages of making it higher.

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As far as the simple and reliable goes. This has to do with your ability. I have to say that the easiest way is dependant on your abilities. I myself go with the flow of the table. The natural roll and trying not to fight it with english only when necessary. This easy run out is what I'm talking about.

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Now, I consider the less necessary travel of the cb as the easiest way to simplicity. However, in your first Wei dia. the two rail is the easiest way. This is an example of a shot I've seen hit and traveled 3 rails for position. I think this is totally dependant on ability. Nobody, I play with would do this. They'd just shoot it soft and control whitey and accept the end result.

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This to me is gambling. JAT



Regards,

C.C.

Rich R.
11-11-2002, 07:28 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Ross:</font><hr>Hey Rich, how's it going?
So if you were coaching me in a match and you said take the simple shot, would you mean take the direct route or the easiest to execute route? <hr></blockquote>
I'm doing fine Ross.
In the first place, I would hope you would have a better coach than me. /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif
But if you were stuck with me, I would try to present the different shot options, that I could see, and then I would ask you which one you thought would be easiest for you to execute. I would also ask if you saw any other options that I may have missed. I am a firm believer that two heads are better than one and the act of coaching should not be a "Do as I say" proposition.
Too many times, I have see coaches instruct players to take shots that the player wasn't capable of executing. That is not good coaching.
I always consider coaching a two way discussion.

Vagabond
11-11-2002, 08:08 AM
simply put,it is called percentage of making the shot.Cheers
vagabond

Alfie
11-11-2002, 05:13 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Vagabond:</font><hr> simply put,it is called percentage of making the shot. <hr /></blockquote> My friend Mr. Vagabond,

If you quote the part of the message you are responding to we can make more sense out of your post.

Pretty please,
Alfie

Vagabond
11-11-2002, 05:56 PM
Howdy Alfie,
I am not computor savy and I really do not know how to Quote few lines.I tried it before but the entire thing got quoted.
I was refering to the issue of reliability and the entire thing Ross was trying to explain.I was saying that it is called percentage.``Percentage`` in this context means:How many times out of 100 times you can achieve the goal( to get the Q for position or potting the ball or what ever u are trying to do) Semantically `` keep it simple`` is different from the issue of reliability.Example: If u want to go to Los Angeles from new york by road u can take interstate 80 west orI- 95 south to 85south to 40west or u can take 95 south to 10 west.Any one of these routes can reliably take u to Los Angeles but not all are simple.when they say keep it simple they are refering to ``less complicated``. Did make a big mess? cheers
vagabond

phil in sofla
11-11-2002, 07:14 PM
The point you're making is a good one, but it may still lead people to have disagreements on what is more reliable.

George Fels advocates fewer rails is better as a general rule, whenever possible (allowing for the exception), pointing out how often shape is screwed up by unplanned amounts of English going the multiple rails way.

One reason one-rail shape is not as reliable for many is that they don't like to use inside English, avoid using it, and therefore cannot reliably do it to get the one-rail shape.

Now, possibly, this may be different for different games. Maybe in straight pool, or even 8-ball, clearing a region and staying there to do it, fewer rails is a better idea than for 9-ball, with its need to do more travelling around the table?

Lester
11-12-2002, 07:49 AM
&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;An excellent post Ross. This question comes up alot at the PH, and yours is the answer I always give. One of the reasons pool is hard to advance in, is because everyone has their own methods - that work for them. They have become comfortable getting position a certain way. ***Lester***

SPetty
11-12-2002, 08:15 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Vagabond:</font><hr>I am not computor savy and I really do not know how to Quote few lines.I tried it before but the entire thing got quoted.<hr /></blockquote>Howdy Vagabond,

To quote just a little, do it the way you know how (press "quote" instead of "reply"), then just delete the non-interesting text when editing the message. Really easy!
/ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Ross
11-12-2002, 10:23 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote phil in sofla:</font><hr>
Now, possibly, this may be different for different games. Maybe in straight pool, or even 8-ball, clearing a region and staying there to do it, fewer rails is a better idea than for 9-ball, with its need to do more travelling around the table? <hr /></blockquote>

This is definitely true. In straight pool, if you are playing it right, you are mostly playing at one end of the table, shooting short shots, and moving the cue ball anywhere from a few inches to a couple of feet. Lots of stop shots or short 1 and 2-rail position shots. Less travel needed in 8 ball too since you can choose your sequence of shots.

Ross
11-12-2002, 10:26 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote cheesemouse:</font><hr> I think there is one consideration that hasn't been mentioned when deciding whether to use one rail or multi-rail shape and that is the 'getting on the line of shape as oppossed to having to crosssing the line of shape'. The margin for error is larger on the line of shape and this should be a major consideration in your shot selection.
&lt;br&gt; <hr /></blockquote>

Definitely true. Often the multiple rail shot will get you going down the " acceptable-position funnel" rather than across it. Sometimes 1 rail shots are the best choice for the same reason.

Rod
11-12-2002, 11:15 AM
Hi Ross,
Simple can be a direct 1 one rail route or up to 4 rails. Simple in general is the normal path the c/b takes after contact with the o/b. We might add a little high or low, inside or outside to alter the path. Usually it's the route that takes the c/b into rather than across the angle. It's also the route that avoids other balls and keeps the c/b away from a possible scratch and on the correct side of the o/b. The last three are my major concerns before shooting any shot. They may not always be the direct route but the best way to stay in line.

Fred Agnir
11-12-2002, 02:16 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Ross:</font><hr> Definitely true. Often the multiple rail shot will get you going down the " acceptable-position funnel" rather than across it. Sometimes 1 rail shots are the best choice for the same reason. <hr /></blockquote>
I'm with this line of thinking also. I mean, it all boils down to what your desired position and angle is. If that means multiple rails, then that's the route. If it means one rail, then that's the route. Better to be comfortable with multiple rails and not need to use them rather than the opposite.

Fred

Vagabond
11-12-2002, 07:48 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SPetty:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote Vagabond:</font><hr>I am not computor savy and I really do not know how to Quote few lines.I tried it before but the entire thing got quoted.<hr /></blockquote>
To quote just a little, Really easy!
/ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif <hr /></blockquote> You have been nice to me for second time.Thank u .
vagabond