I was recently made aware of a list of rules to
be posted in our club concerning the behaviour of some of our perhaps over
enthusiastic younger players.
Most of these rules concerned
noise and off the table conduct and behaviour but they did stimulate some
discussion about negative "gamesmanship" that had been observed over the years
by some of our more established and senior players.
This has prompted me to write
down some thoughts to be considered by all players about their own behaviour
around the Snooker/Billiard table in the hope of stimulating a debate on the
- Do you ever stand by the pocket that your
opponent is attempting to pot a ball into?
- Do you ever chalk your cue "loudly" as your
opponent is taking their shot?
- Do you ever talk to your opponent in the
hope that you can reduce the effectiveness of their concentration or their
- Do you ever find yourself rushing around the
table as your opponent is making a break and ending up accused of interfering
with his line of sight?
- Do you continuously complain about your luck
so that eventually your opponent reduces their concentration due to your ever
readiness to complain about their good fortune or your bad?
- Do you ever talk to bystanders perhaps
asking if a particular ball goes in order to disrupt an opponents
- Do you ever refuse to accept that you have
committed a fowl, perhaps by lightly touching a ball and then not admitting
- Do you ever question the scoreboard or make
inaccurate movements of the pointers to benefit your position?
- Do you ever make unnecessary fuss about
re-spotting balls to distract your opponent?
- Do you ever deliberately miss-announce the
score as your opponent is on a break in order to disrupt his concentration?
These are the top ten that the group of us could
remember having seen over the years, in no particular order of frequency
I have often seen people playing
for money, that have made an art form of combining the above methods as part of
their regular match strategy. They seem to adopt a different personality as
soon as the session gets under way, perhaps this is due to the pressure and
anxiety of the situation that they are in and their reaction to it?
I would like to make a plea that
if you, as a player are not prepared to take your chances against any given
opponent without resorting to the above tactics then perhaps you should refrain
from gambling on your ability until you can. I have myself moaned about my luck
during a session but am making a concerted effort to banish this kind of thing
from my game.
Of course distractions sometimes
occur strictly unintentionally and should not be confused with deliberate
attempts to defeat an opponent by any means available. I would not encourage
young players to gamble on their Snooker ability until they have at least
completed a full season in the local league thus having learned how to behave
well in both victory and defeat regardless of the money involved.
Most people when challenged
about the above-mentioned behaviour either, deny it flat out or say that it is
part of the game. I don't agree with either statement and would argue that
etiquette, is very much part of the game and greatly adds to the reputation of
the game when applied correctly? What do you think?
I must say that these
observations of negative gamesmanship are those that I have witnessed over a
very long period of time and that none of them took place in professional
matches. Some of the time I believe that players start this kind of behaviour
as a joke, sadly some people seem to gain greater success from employing them
so continue to incorporate them into their play.
I think that a good coach
should always add a lesson on etiquette as part of their teachings as at the
very least it may pre-warn the more serious player that they may at some point
encounter these kind of tactics and allow them to devise an appropriate
personal strategy for coping with them?
Having played many matches in
the local league, I can honestly say that this kind of behaviour is extremely
rare, so I dont think that we need worry too much about the state of the
game at grass roots level, but I would like to do my bit to keep things this