Will this be my last cue?


Posted by Bert VAN MANEN on August 29, 2015

Bert van ManenA few months ago, I bought a Molinari cue. It’s the Sung Won Choi model CRMSC1-9, and it’s a beauty. Ever since I did, people have been asking me to write a column about it. A surprising number of people, actually. It’s all very flattering, but those who expressed an interest in my opinion, did not realize that I am not a cue expert at all.

molinari-by-predator-crmsc1-9-3-cushion-billiard-cue-spec-sheetI’ve played billiards since I was 21, three-cushion since I was 26. I am 58 now, and this Molinari is my fourth cue. The first was a Wilhelmina, the Dutch table manufacturer’s house brand. The second was an Es-Bee, made by former Belgian top player Stany Buyle. The third was a Dieckman, handmade and one-of-a-kind as all Dieckmans are. The Wilhelmina and the EsBee are gone now, I’ve probably sold them, don’t remember. The Dieckman is not and will not be for sale; I love it and I am holding on to it. I’ve played for a decade or a bit more with those, and certainly intend to use the Molinari just as long.

So if you want to know about the different playing characteristics of Layani, Adam, Longoni, Karma, Buffalo, Theory or Hanbat? I am not the one to ask, because I have never made a single point with any of those.

What I can do, is answer four questions to the best of my ability.

1) Why did you buy the Molinari?

molinari-by-predator-crmsc1-9-3-cushion-billiard-cue-thumbOther than the fact that it looks so good? Yes, I wanted it the way men want a 911, but that was not the main reason. This was: I trusted TB’s judgment. He didn’t encourage me to buy one so he could get a commission (I didn’t even buy mine from Blomdahl), but because he was convinced I would not regret it. And he was right.

2) Do you like the way it plays?

I love it. In a matter of days, the getting-used-to period was over, and it was “mine”. I feel confident in my aim and my stroke. Other people are far more qualified to say intelligent things about low-deflection shafts, hollowed-out shafts and laminated butt-technology than I am, so I’m not even going to try. What I can say, is this: the first day or two, I picked up the Molinari and it felt much lighter than the Dieckman with almost the same weight. This mislead me into fearing that I might have lost some horsepower under my bonnet, but the opposite was true. I can force a ball twice-around from a difficult angle, and it will easily reach. A 3-rail draw is easier than it’s ever been for me. Heavily amortized slow shots with maximum spin took the longest to get used to, but now I have the feel for those as well.

To stick with the car metaphor: this cue feels as if a bit of steel has been replaced with aluminum and carbon fiber. Light, with unexpected strength.

3) Was there anything disappointing?

Yes, at first. My cue came with two shafts, both had a Predator tip, and both were rock hard. I considered changing them, but from past experience I knew that the best tips are those that seem too hard at first. If they don’t change for the better at all: take them off. But if they gradually get better, they will become good and stay good for a long time. I took TB’s advice (again), punished both tips for an evening with 9-rail shots and fouettĂ©’s, and they are fine now.

4) Will this cue give you a better average?

My best answer is: maybe, ever so slightly. In the first tournament I played with the Molinari, I had a very good average (245 / 178 = 1.376, exceptional for me), but the placebo effect was probably huge, or I just happened to have a good week. Don’t read too much into that. If, at the end of the 2015 – 2016 season, I’ve improved on last year, I’ll let you know. If I do worse, I will also tell you. That is, if you promise not to blame it on my Molinari. It’s a really good cue.