View Full Version : Safeties: Wrong Side of the Ball?

04-04-2003, 11:58 AM
Safeties: Wrong Side of the ball?
To properly read this diagram, you will need to go to the following link:

To use the table, simply highlight the stream and copy; and paste at the green button at the Wei table site.

(Originally appeared in my book "The Growling Point" and has been edited for use with the WEI table)

Wrong Side of the ball?

The following situation came up during a match against Dennis Hatch in 1993. He had broken and not made a ball. I pocketed the one ball, and was left with the following:


From the look of things, I had really screwed myself, and good. My intention was to be on the other side of the 4 ball, so that I would have natural position to the three after pocketing the 2 ball into pocket A. I came up short, as is evident with what I was left with, and it was now time to find out just what I had available to me in order to escape imminent doom.

Positionally, I was dead in the center of the table, and the angle on the 2 ball was mildly severe, but I could have pocketed into the side pocket, but the route to get to the 3 ball was blocked by the lay of the 7 and 9 balls. Even if I was lucky enough to get around the 7 and 9 off that top left rail, I had the 8 to contend with, as well as the 5 ball. Running into any of these balls would spell disaster, as the 3 was locked solid on the short rail opposite of the direction my cue ball would travel. My main concern was the 7 ball. If I got caught behind the 7 ball, I'd end up in more trouble than I was in before pocketing the 2 ball.

This is where the green light went off in my decision to map out a safety. Having the cue ball run into the 7 was bad enough, but locking the cue ball behind the 7 was something I wanted to completely avoid, so why not leave the cue ball there for my opponent? The obvious target to send the 2 ball towards was the 5 ball. Accomplishing this task was much simpler than trying to come around for the 3 ball. So this is what I planned to do.


When playing safe, I recommend that you try to control the cue ball or the object ball, always try to avoid controlling both at the same time. In this exampe, we merely need to control the 2 ball. As long as it makes its way behind the 5 ball, we should be okay. The cue ball merely needs to travel in the direction as illustrated. Ideally, we want the cue ball behind the 7 ball, but coming up long or short just sets the level of difficulty for our opponent's next shot. If we come up long, the 6 also presents a problem for our opponent. Merely concentrate on getting the 2 behind the 5. As long as that is accomplished, the incoming shooter will be kicking. Another thing to point out is that not only will he be kicking, he will be kicking and sending the cue ball Away from position on the 3 ball. In all safeties, I recommend looking for ways to not only trap your opponent, but to also find ways to have him shooting away from the next ball.

This is what I left Dennis:

I cannot stress how easy this was to accomplish. He was not able to jump, and though there are some pretty crazy multi-rail kick options there, none of them are high percentage shots. Even if somehow he makes contact with the 2 ball legally, chances are that I will be able to hit it quite easily after that. If he fails to make contact with the 2 ball, I have ball in hand, and I have a wide open table. Dennis was unable to make contact with the 2 ball, and I earned myself a game. What started out as a critical error, was ultimately used to my advantage. Getting angry and mulling over the fact that I came up short on the 2 ball would have solved nothing.

Many players try to create clusters, or tie up balls, not realizing that once clusters are made, they need to be broken up again. If I had chosen to do that in this situation, I might have not had the wide open opportunity when I got ball in hand. Find what is easiest to accomplish, and don't just trap him, trap him real good! The emotions that come with helplessness breed more negative emotions for my opponent, and I want him to experience all of them. In this particular situation, that one decison bought me about three games, and bought my opponent about 10 minutes of sitting in the chair mumbling expletives.
Blackjack David Sapolis

04-04-2003, 12:39 PM
Where were you last night when I needed you???? /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Hopefully my safety game gets better and I lose that "I can sink that shot" mentality. Sure I make the shot, but leave myself increasingly worse shape until I'm screwed.

This type of post does help Dave, thanks!

04-04-2003, 01:49 PM
Wow! You remembered a table layout from 10 years ago??? I can't remember last night.

Nice thread though. This shot does come up quite often.

04-04-2003, 02:17 PM
Wow! You remembered a table layout from 10 years ago??? I can't remember last night.


Actually, this excerpt is almost 10 years old as well. It is an exceprt from one of my books "The Growling Point". When I played, I made sure to diagram and take notes immediately after my matches. This way I would identify key point in the match, or work on mistakes, revist errors, or missed shots. At first remembering the intricate details is difficult and fuzzy, but with practice, it becomes quite simple. I had a traveling partner that would diagram table layouts for me during my matches. In 1992, I began videotaping my matches which made it quite easy to re-create many of the instances that occurred positively or negatively. The match described here was a great confidence booster as I was returning back to competition after battling cancer.