Admit it, we’ve all fallen for them. Those innocuous throwaway lines in the form of snooker gamesmanship from your opponent that come and go without a second glance. It’s only when you’re driving home after another frustrating defeat that you hear them repeating in your head and realise what’s happened: you’ve been had.
Here are four of the most common lines we’ve heard over the years.
“Be careful with that cushion, the white flies off it sometimes.”
One for the ages, designed to put doubt into your mind and make you consider avoiding using a certain cushion. This could lead to you playing different shots rather than using the natural path and risk a fast bounce from the cushion. For extra bonus points, your opponent will almost certainly be referring to one of the cushions around the reds (i.e. one you’ll use a lot) rather than the baulk cushion.
“I’ve been practising a lot. Last night I couldn’t miss.”
Often said with fake amazement at their own progress, this line is there to make you feel cautious and anxious when you’re among the reds. It’s there to make you worry that any mistake you make will be punished. In turn, this causes internal stress – which leads to deceleration, twitches and generally poor shot choices. Ignore this line at all costs.
“That contact sounded a bit off. Is your tip OK?”
Of course, you didn’t hear anything wrong with that last shot you played – because there wasn’t anything wrong with it. This is another trick aiming to put doubt in your mind. Rather than question your technique, it plants doubt about your snooker cue. Until you hear or feel something yourself, ignore comments like this without hesitation.
If you do need a new tip though, you can get them off Amazon here.
“I’m not hopeful tonight, you’re normally miles too good for me.”
This is a particular favourite of old-school sharks coming up against younger players. The aim is to lull the opponent into a false sense of security. A 50-break later, the young player is left assessing the damage after going for one too many shots because they were convinced they didn’t really have to worry about what they left.
What are your favourite examples of snooker gamesmanship? Let us know in the comments below!