Hello fellow pooldawgians!  Today I thought we would talk about some common problems (pool ball patterns) that come up playing this great game and how to use some creative shots to solve these problems. 

A key to identifying the solutions and pocketing these shots involves understanding the pool physics with tangent lines.  A tangent line is the line that bisects 90 degrees from the point of contact (as shown in Diagram A).  The ball will travel along this 90 degree path after contact because ball-ball collisions will always leave on that angle regardless of speed.  

Tangent Line in Caroms
DIAGRAM A: The Tangent Line is a line that bisects the shot line 90 degrees at the point of contact.

Let’s jump right in with Diagram B.  Here we are playing a game of 8-ball and we have the solid balls.  You will notice that we have a pretty nasty cluster of balls tied up along the rail near the side pocket.  There are several ways we could try and take care of this mess but I propose we take a look at our dear old friend the carom shot. A Carom occurs when you bounce an Object Ball off of another Object Ball.  If we shoot the one ball into the four ball at the point shown, it will travel along the tangent line and into the pocket.  The four ball will then break open our cluster allowing us to have more open shots.

Easy Carom Shot
DIAGRAM B: Easy Carom Shot - Play the one ball of of the four ball. This will break up the remaining balls.

Diagram C shows a different scenario.  This time we are playing 9-ball.  Our opponent has broke the balls and failed to pocket a ball on the break.  Unfortunately he has also left us safe on the one ball.  But if we use our friend the Ticky Billiard shot we can not only hit the one ball but we can possibly make the nine and win the game.  A billiard shot is when the Cue Ball bounces off of an Object Ball.  A Ticky Billiard is when the Cue Ball bounces off of the cushion before bouncing off of the Object Ball.  If you aim to hit the rail first as shown, the cue ball will contact the one at the location shown and then travel along the tangent line towards the nine ball.

Long Tricky Carom
DIAGRAM C: Ticky Billiard

Diagram D is one of my favorites.  Here we are playing 9-ball.  It seems like an easy run out up until we have to deal with the three-four cluster.  If we look closer we have an easy solution right in front of us.  Here we can play a stop shot with the cue ball driving the one ball into the five ball at the location shown.  The one ball will travel down the tangent line and into the corner pocket.  The five ball will then travel over and break up the three-four cluster, and since we stopped the cue ball we have perfect position on the two.

Harder Carom Shot
DIAGRAM D: Hard Carom Shot

So in the future when you are faced with a difficult situation, look at some creative caroms and billiards.  It can help get you out of tight spot for position, break up problem balls, or even win the game!!

Have fun trying these shots out!

Mikey V.