Get Them Both in Play
by Grady Mathews
When you need two and your opponent needs one, the primary goal is to stay alive in the game. Very close in importance is the secondary goal of getting both balls in play. If these desires can be accomplished, your opponent may find himself an underdog, even though he has an edge in the score.
In Diagram 1, my pocket is A, and, of course, I need both balls. I could play a one-rail bank on the 1 ball. A better shot is to three-rail the 1 ball and at the same time try to pocket the 7 ball.
A center-ball hit and contacting about half of the object ball works best here. I prefer a fairly level cue and medium speed. There should not be a kiss on this shot.
On a table with average-age cloth, the three-railer on the 8 ball in Diagram 2 is a beautiful play. When the object ball is cut a little to the right of straight ahead, a just-below-center-ball hit takes the cue ball into the 14 ball.
Practicing this shot a few times will give you the idea what speed is required. I love two-ball end-game shots where:
A. Both balls are controlled.
B. Both object balls are put into play when I need two.
C. No matter what happens, I leave my opponent a long shot.
Diagram 3 offers a classic three-railer for my pocket (A), but I need both balls, and, as fate would have it, the angle is perfect to also draw the cue ball into the 15 ball.
Medium speed and a straight-ahead hit on the 1 ball works best here. I might win the game in one inning. At worst, my opponent has a long shot that he cannot win the game with.
As these balls lie, if I needed one instead of two, I’d still play the three-railer, but I’d be sure to not pocket the 15 ball.
Playing the score correctly is always important in one-pocket and never more so than at the end game. Remember, if you and your opponent are of equal ability, and he needs two and you need one, it’s three to one against him winning the game if you can force him to make his balls one at a time. This month’s column shows how to destroy the three-to-one odds when we’re behind.