Snooker Cheat or Gamesmanship?
Well I thought I’d put pen to paper (so to speak) as this topic has created many a heated debate at local league level for a little while now and deserves a mention. No player wants to be labelled as a snooker cheat but I’m sure you’ll raise an eye brow as you read on.
After chatting with local snooker players, I decided to compile a list of all the experiences they had encountered where their opponents actions could be considered gamesmanship or out and out cheating. I guess what surprised me were the amount of players that had adopted those little things when the pressures on to niggle their opponent or distract them from their shot. Having had an 11 year break from snooker myself I was amazed that many of these issues had come to light that I certainly hadn’t noticed previously in some 20 years of league snooker.
So, take a look at the list below and you decide what you think, snooker cheat or just gamesmanship, let us know if you have experienced anything else that we can add to the list.
Well what do you say here?
Most of us go to snooker to get away from work, phones and stress but then along comes a player who seems more interested in the mobile phone than the match!
The times I have played someone and whilst you are taking your shot they are looking at the phone, reading texts, actually texting, seeing the football scores or following the changing odds of a bet they’ve had, and the last one was actually in a recent match.
I’ve been asked more than once if an opponent can leave the mobile on because they are waiting for a works call; not easy to concentrate, especially if they then expect to stop the match whilst they answer the phone. The worst one for me is the players watching who are in a dark snooker room with their phones on and the light from the phone is moving around the dark walls like a light Sabre.
One team match I was in had most of the players from both teams looking at their mobiles and I pointed out to another players all the lights moving, it was like a scene out of Star Wars.
Whether some players do it deliberately to put you out of your stride is one you’ll have to decide; there’s no place in the snooker room for mobiles for me though.
Moving in the Snooker Players Eye Line?
How many times are you cueing a shot at a crucial stage of the match and your opponent is not only behind the object ball but starts swaying, moving or drinking their pint right at the point of your shot? Now obviously this happens and you’d have to question how serious you are and at what level of snooker you play but it’s an interesting one for me when you start to take note of particular players and their habits.
Once this was brought to my attention, I started to notice people renowned for a lack of sportsmanship doing this not all through the frame, but at points of the frame where the crucial ball was in play and could decide the victor.
Now when we have discussed this as a group, It was also brought up that in club matches, away team refs sometimes walk to the next pocket as if to wait for the pot or even leaning toward the pocket as the player is in their pause position. Now I have actually seen an opposing referee do this holding his hand out to the pocket, that’s certainly stretching gamesmanship for sure and would get a well earned comment from moi!
Putting 1/2 Points on the Scoreboard
What’s that I hear to say, what do you mean 1/2 points, the least you can score is 1 point.
Well this one never even occurred to me until it was brought up by someone who had seen it from two players that practiced with each other; coincidence, well I’d say it was a big one at best!
Apparently, the gruesome twosome were well known when playing club matches for putting the scoreboard pointer in between two numbers e.g. they scored 16 points so put 16 1/2 up. When they score their next points (say 16) they are then on 33 as the scoreboard pointer doesn’t really indicate whether it is on 16 or 17. Now when these guys were looking like they would need a snooker, that additional point or two (if they’re brave) over the course of a frame certainly enables them to win when they would have needed a snooker.
Since learning of this one I really keep an eye on the scoreboard with players that have a reputation and sadly referee’s from particular clubs.
This is one I don’t consider gamesmanship, surely this has to be a snooker cheat; what do you think?
The Squeaking Floorboard
Well it’s that crucial point in the frame where the pressures on and this ball could win the frame and the match for your team. The room is silent, the tensions building and everyone in the room is keyed up for the outcome. The player takes a breath, composes himself, walks into the shot and starts to cue. Get this ball he thinks, takes two feathers and then pauses to take the glory, you could hear a pin drop as he takes the final pause and then just as the cue is about to come through what happens? Ah! The creaking floorboard syndrome comes into play.
Now you might think nah. I’ve seen it done by a player and also by a referee to my disgust. When I approached the player between matches and had a conversation with him about what things he considers are gamesmanship he admitted it is one of his trump cards he plays occasionally to get an edge and has won him a few frames over the years. Our club has two creaking floorboards and I am keeping an eye on them for when the carpet is changed.
For me this is a stretch on gamesmanship.
Crisps, Carrier Bags and Tobacco Pouches
I watched a match between two clubs and if I said they didn’t get along it would be the understatement of the year regarding a couple of their players. Was there a history between any of the players? Oh yes, and not a good one that’s for sure.
Apparently, the two best players didn’t get on with one of their opponents so when they were playing away he would be eating crisps on their shots until it blew up one night; they suggested that the crisps would be placed in another of his orifices if it continued which created much debate and further conflict. Now generally you don’t see many of the smaller clubs that allow eating in the snooker rooms so I’m sure it isn’t that big an issue but nevertheless I thought I’d give it a mention.
Playing in a club final and just about to pot the frame winning pink, the opponent sits down and gets a carrier bag out and starts rustling around, the player then gets up and composes himself again and gets down on the shot for a second time, what next you might ask? The opponent then takes his tobacco pouch from the carrier bag whilst cueing and you guessed it, a missed pink and match lost.
Gamesmanship, well I’d consider that a stretch I think.
Now I don’t think anyone would really have too much of a problem if an opponent took a toilet break at the beginning of a match as most would laugh even if their opponent was trying to put them off as it’s early doors. What I certainly see occasionally are players when games are slipping away are players taking a toilet break to obviously compose themselves and to break the positive rhythm of their opponent who has just got ahead.
What can be done about this as it’s really annoying when you experience it time and time again when playing the same people? Well personally if I think it is deliberate I wait for the player to get back and then say, “Actually, I think I use the toilet while we’re at it,” they can then wait for you whilst you compose yourself again after the break. Now I wouldn’t normally play such games but when a player has a reputation for it, you reap what you sow!
It’s gamesmanship in my opinion but it always makes me smile as you know it’s gonna happen from particular players time and time again when you have the upper hand.
Unscrewing the Cue Whilst Potting the Frame Winning Ball
I’ve seen this a few times over the years and have always seen it as the player is disgusted with himself and isn’t really paying attention to being polite or is deliberately trying to distract the player. I have seen players miss a ball in this instance and the player then put the cue back together and pot the ball to win, totally unacceptable I think and a deliberate attempt in most occasions distract the player.
The last time I saw this, the player cueing turned round and said,”Oh, are you conceding?” and the guy said, “Well you won’t miss that!” The player then held his hand out and the guy unscrewing the cue shook it in embarrassment. The clever player then got down and deliberately missed the black saying, “Well he’s conceded the match now so it doesn’t matter,” it did make me smile.
Snooker cheat or gamesmanship, I’ll let you decide that one.
Local Leagues and Push Shots
I’ve always found this a difficult one as it always crops up in discussion but I think it’s got to be a tough one as to whether to label someone as a snooker cheat when lots of lower league players would struggle to describe what a push shot actually is. I’ve called them on myself a couple of times in the past as if there’s that little bit of uncertainty in my mind I think it probably was and wouldn’t feel right to not bring it up.
In the past I can even remember calling it on myself on a pink ball at the end of the frame and even my opponent was embarrassed as the foul cost us the frame and my team the match; that was a nightmare for me as I had to apologise to my team mates but they are like minded and laughed it off (well maybe laugh was an exaggeration!).
I have however seen players that certainly know they have pushed it and carried on. Inexperienced referees at club level I think have to be excused as that’s the nature of the beast but experienced players know in my opinion.
I once watched a guy push a blue, pot it and then clear up. Once the blue dropped, he looked at me and those crimson cheeks and sudden hot flush told me he knew he had pushed it and that’s why he glanced at me; that’s not a win in my book.
Now I have had feedback which suggests that the referee is responsible for all calls and the player cannot be considered a snooker cheat as he isn’t in charge of the rules; I understand the point of view but in my book I would rather win because I was good enough, not because I knew I had broken the rules but didn’t have the sportsmanship to own up. We have of course seen this at professional level but I think it’s a shame that people need to win at all costs, but, as they say, that’s another story.
Putting Your Score on their Points
Now this is one that is seen occasionally in local competitions when the players don’t use a referee.
It is usually used when both players have scored a few points and the opponent scores a low break e.g. 4,5 or 6 as this is just enough that if you are concentrating more on the frame than the score this can go unnoticed.
This was one that I hadn’t heard of so watched a particular player who was a regular offender and at least once ion every match this would crop up and was rarely noticed by the opponent. This was ahead shaker for me as I couldn’t believe the tricks certain players had up their sleeves to gain an advantage.
Clear snooker cheat in my opinion and a difficult case to argue on any level!
On another point. I knew another player that would always put the opponents score up to save them doing it. But, if they fouled, they would miss putting this up occasionally and it would be missed, you’ve gotta wonder but you should ensure every time that the score is accurate.
Chit Chat to Put You Off
How many times have you heard the club geezer spurt some of the following to try and gain an advantage and put you off your game?
- “How did you miss that”
- “Go on, suck his eye’s out.”
- “Why didn’t you just pot the ball, it was harder to miss.”
- “Well that’s that then, he won’t miss this.”
- “Well there’s at least 30 there then.”
- “He always gets these.”
I’ve seen this so often it always makes me smile how people drop them to gain an advantage and put their opponent off. In most cases it drives me on personally but it is certainly difficult to concentrate as sometimes you are waiting for the next comment. I normally just give a stare and ask them if they are done now but even that is going to break your concentration.
You gotta love em!
Snooker cheat? Just gamesmanship in my book.
Chalking Their Cue
This is one that I have never personally been put off by but I have seen people really lose it over this one on occasion.
I always ensure that I chalk as soon as I have finished my last shot and before the opponent approaches their shot. If they surprise me and get down on the shot quickly I just wait until it’s my turn and then chalk.
Some people inadvertently chalk when the player is down but just on occasion, not very time. The game players I am talking about are those guys that deliberately wait until their opponent is cueing and then start to chalk as loudly as they can, especially if they have one of those nice hard laminated tips that screech when chalked!
Gamesmanship again if deliberate but again you’ll have to decide whether you call them a snooker cheat!
So, snooker cheats or just plain old gamesmanship?
Let us know what you think and if you have any examples of your own to add to our list.