The Destruction of My Mind by the Cruel Game of Three Cushion Billiards


by Seiyul Yu on July 21, 2016

I watch the remarkable match between FC and DJ at AGIPI in 2013 where FC comes from like 30 behind. As I watch the first half, I visualize myself as Jaspers, I am in my mind a billiard machine, steady, invincible. As I watch the second half, I visualize myself as Caudron, making elegant solutions as I run 20. In my mind, I am now a billiard god.

Next day after I work, I go to the billiard hall. My friend manages the place, he sets me up with a clean table and balls and lets me practice and warm up. I spread the three balls at random and shoot, make my first four shots in a row! Okay, one was fluky and another barely scored, but four is still four, and in my mind I am still a billiard god.

My buddy offers to play a game. I say let me warm up a bit more. I miss my next dozen or so shots, some horribly. I decide more warm up isn’t good for my confidence, I tell my buddy let’s play.

We’re both playing well, while he keeps playing, suddenly I stop. I miss three shots by a hair. It happens, I tell myself, even to someone like DJ, don’t lose confidence. Next two innings I make good shots, but the first object ball races around the table and gets in the way with last second kiss. This is bullshit, I think. My friend makes two flukes in a row, I smile but inside I’m steaming now.

Channel your inner Caudron, I tell myself. One shot at a time, just take it one shot at a time. I’ve got an unmissable double the rail, I just have to make sure I use enough spin and a smooth confident stroke. Draw the cue back slowly, pause like I usually do (just like Sanchez!)… miscue! Goddammit, I forgot to chalk my tip. My inner voice is no longer telling me I am a billiard god, it is telling me I’m a moron, an idiot, an imbecile…

My buddy has four left, runs three, and mercifully (?) hits into a kiss to give me another chance. I tell myself “give up” like TB apparently does when he’s far behind, just relax and play billiards.

I look at the situation, my ball middle of the table, two balls exactly one ball width apart near the long cushion. A bank shot, and a fairly simple bank shot at that, and it has a healthy margin for error. No kiss, no miscue, there’s nothing that can go wrong. I even use the five and half system to size it up, fifty five start, thirty five last cushion, aim at the second diamond with medium english, easy peasy.

I aim, get a good feeling, hit the ball with a nice stroke. Long, short, long… I’m finally going to make a point! Until… my ball slides right between the two balls without touching anything. Apparently that f#*cking gap was 1.00001 balls wide…

My friend mercifully scores his last point. I take apart my cue, go home. My wife asks me if I had fun, I just grunt and go straight to bed. She says no more, she’s seen this before.

And when I wake the next morning, all I’m thinking is… I can’t wait to go play some three cushion.