Playing with a Broomstick

lfigueroa

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In the "My thoughts on conventional vs low deflection shaft" thread, there was some back and forth over whether it was possible to play pool with a broomstick and actually make a few balls. I think "playing with a broomstick" is one of those borderline apocryphal stories we've all heard about, at one time or another, and I was wondering if any of you had played with a broomstick, or seen it done? I know I have a bit of history with the broomstick...

The following is a true story.

(insert flashback music)

It was a Friday night, back in the early 70's, at Town & Country Billiards, in Daly City, California. As was my wont, at that period in my callow youth, there I was, hitting balls, instead of being out on a date, or working on my term paper which was due the following week. But, it was Friday night, the week of school and work was over, I was 19 years old, playing pool, and life was good.

About 10 o'clock, Vince -- a well-known (and well-heeled) mark, walks in the front door of the establishment. Vince was always good for some $5 or $10 9ball, a game I actually played and was semi-proficient at, way back then. As soon as I saw him come in the door, I knew I'd have only a very limited window of opportunity to to put him under contract, before other, perhaps more enticing (but nonetheless unprofitable for Vince) offers were made by all the usual suspects. And so, with full knowledge that I'd only have one shot at this customer, I opened with what I thought would be a sure fire automatic deal-closer, "Hey Vince, come on. Let's play some 9ball. You got the eight." Vince didn't miss a beat and shot back, "I ain't playing you with no 8. I want the 6, 7, 8 from someone who shoots as straight as you." I instantly knew I had underestimated my man and grossly misplayed my opportunity and so I just weakly rejoined, "Hell! The 6, 7, 8?! I'd play someone with the broomstick with that kind of spot." And then, just like lighting, it came, and Vince barked back, "OK. You got the 6,7,8, for $20 a game."

Well, this was a totally unexpected turn of events. The hunter had somehow become the huntee and I was at a sudden loss as to what the appropriate move was. But then, Jerry and Devlin came to my rescue.

Jerry was my wing man on many an adventure. Devlin looked just like Cole Dickson and was just a straight shootin sum beeatch, about our age, who also hung around. "Play him -- you can win," Devlin said. I was totally not buying it, "What do you mean I can win?! Playing with a broomstick?!" Jerry says, "You can do it. Devlin did it against Dennis a few years ago. It's not that tough." Still, I had more than a few doubts. But somehow, their complete confidence in our side of the proposition swayed me and I said, "OK. Get the broomstick." I put the eight-point Gina back in its case for the night.

"Hey Stan. We need to borrow your broomstick."

Now for Stan Cleaner, owner and counter man, this request, came as no surprise or shock. He'd seen it all over the years and watched as his teenage charges had grown older, yet no wiser. This was just one more in a long string of inane, nonsensical, nutty things he'd heard and so, without much more than a shake of his head and a barely audible sigh, he continued reading his paper and said, "It's in the closet."

Stan's broom was standard issue (Made by the Blind). Maybe an 1 1/2" diameter blue wood handle, and the usual whisks in a tight natural colored fan pattern. The shape of the end of the handle was actually a pretty good approximation of a regular cue tip, except bigger. A lot bigger. "OK, look. You gotta keep it chalked, just like a regular pool cue. Just keep it chalked," Devlin instructed, as he sanded the blue enamel off the "tip." I looked at him dubiously.

Vince and I agreed to $20 a game (insert requisite: "that was pretty good action, back then.") Jerry, Devlin, and I quickly formed a consortium, pooling our monies for a grand total of $120. Six barrels. I'd have to come out of the starting blocks fast. The only thing that made this anything less than total lunacy was that Vince was a known go-off, and if somehow I could prevail, we'd all be on our way on a Vince sponsored excursion to Lake Tahoe, with its siren call of casinos, blackjack tables, and "free" beer, shortly after the conclusion of the match at hand.

We started and right off, I could tell: Jerry was right! It wasn't impossible. The hardest part was getting a decent grip on the whisks. And of course, you had to play with an open hand bridge. But Vince wasn't that good to begin with, and he had a little pooch in him, and I'm sure the potential stories that would circulate through the pool room -- about him losing to a guy playing with a broomstick -- were floating through his brain.

Vince jars an eight ball. Lou bumps the cue ball towards the eight and wins. Maybe this was not so tough after all...

After about two hours a serious problem began to emerge. It wasn't what was going on on the pool table. I was now getting the hang of it and was running three, and then four, and the occasional five balls at a time. I was even able to put a little stop shot action on the ball. And, we were now playing for $40 a game. Lou, Jerry, Devlin, Inc. was up almost $400. The problem was: gripping the broomstick by its whisks, the whisks had started to work their way up under my finger nails -- my fingers had begun to bleed and starting to hurt like hell. Jerry went running behind the counter to get the pool hall "Emergency Kit," which consisted entirely of a couple of old Band-Aids and an equally aging bottle of aspirin. We taped up all the fingers on my grip hand and I was good to go.

Well, to cut to the chase, we played into the night and I won just over $800 from Vince (not a bad score in those days). To this day, I don't know if the broomstick was conventional or low deflection. All I know is that you can play with a broom stick. But my recommendation is to wear a glove on your grip hand, if you're going to do it :)

Lou Figueroa
 
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KoolKat9Lives

Taught 'em all I know
Silver Member
Nice score and thanks for the tips. I think I'm gonna go to a bunch of stores until I find the best hitting Balabroomska on the market.
 

woodyosborne

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
mop will do the trick , too.

a local room owner now has a three(or four or five) piece waynes holmes cue courtesy of his wife. she saw very little humor(unlike others) after he lost $400 to a guy shooting with a mop handle(custom??)
 

zy112

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I don't quite have a story like the OP's, but Ive seen it done in my old fraternity basement and they actually made some balls... Naturally, we moved on to one handed pool with a broomstick.
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
Two broom, two mops, one guy

Lou,

A great story! I'da been sucking air a second when he reversed things on me too. Glad you got it going. Those little lightweight plastic headed brooms or a sponge mop played best for me.

I've played several different guys with a broom way back when, mostly redneck country boys that had heard the story and had to try it. I have played with a sponge mop and a string mop, still a little wet from somebody mopping the floor with it too.

Steve was the one always ready for something different. On different nights we played with mops, brooms, and just a handle from a little broom. I found the sweet spot in the broom straw playing with a broom like Lou played with, not all the way to the end but where the straw was loose enough I could get my fingers all the way around a handful of it. Fortunately in all of my games both players were playing with something silly, usually the same broom or mop, so I did just fine. I learned anything that is rounded that you can get chalk to stick to will let you use a little spin, operative word being a little! I used to leave the chalk off until the money got right. :thumbup:

Now I am going to let readers in on the origin of SPF, the famous Set Pause Fire of some of the top instructors. It came about from playing with a wet string mop! With that wet mop head swinging back and forth, it would swap directions about halfway through your stroke when you pulled the mop back and fired pulling your stroke way off course. Inserting a long pause to let the strings stop swinging back and forth made the mop play much better. Some folks shot with a mop so much the pause got to be a habit. There you have it, the origin of SPF!

Hu
 

Johnnyt

Burn all jump cues
Silver Member
I've played pool with a broomstick just fooling around. At least I can't remember gambling using it. Now those bowling that used the shuffleboard pust is a different story. I could bowl a 300 game every time if I needed to. I made a LOT of money that way. Just can't remember what I did with all that money.

Great story from the OP by the way. Johnnyt
 

JE54

Gotta get a new dentist.
Silver Member
Good story. Sounds like I should get rid of my cue and learn to play with a broom. I can't do much worse. That way once I get beat I can sweep up and make some money for bus fare. LOL
 

joninnorfolk

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There is a little sports bar in Virginia Beach that holds a tourney every Saturday night, but when they have their Halloween party, it is played with broomsticks.
 

zy112

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There is a little sports bar in Virginia Beach that holds a tourney every Saturday night, but when they have their Halloween party, it is played with broomsticks.

HAHA, that would be a great time... hopefully they play short sets as I can imagine playing with a broomstick could take awhile to finish games (at least for me)
 

sfleinen

14.1 & One Pocket Addict
Gold Member
Silver Member
[S]wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster?

Lou,

A great story! I'da been sucking air a second when he reversed things on me too. Glad you got it going. Those little lightweight plastic headed brooms or a sponge mop played best for me.

I've played several different guys with a broom way back when, mostly redneck country boys that had heard the story and had to try it. I have played with a sponge mop and a string mop, still a little wet from somebody mopping the floor with it too.

Steve was the one always ready for something different. On different nights we played with mops, brooms, and just a handle from a little broom. I found the sweet spot in the broom straw playing with a broom like Lou played with, not all the way to the end but where the straw was loose enough I could get my fingers all the way around a handful of it. Fortunately in all of my games both players were playing with something silly, usually the same broom or mop, so I did just fine. I learned anything that is rounded that you can get chalk to stick to will let you use a little spin, operative word being a little! I used to leave the chalk off until the money got right. :thumbup:

Now I am going to let readers in on the origin of SPF, the famous Set Pause Fire of some of the top instructors. It came about from playing with a wet string mop! With that wet mop head swinging back and forth, it would swap directions about halfway through your stroke when you pulled the mop back and fired pulling your stroke way off course. Inserting a long pause to let the strings stop swinging back and forth made the mop play much better. Some folks shot with a mop so much the pause got to be a habit. There you have it, the origin of SPF!

Hu

But Hu,

I thought SPF stood for:

wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster ...??

:D

-Sean

EDIT: Swiffer would be the player, Pushbroom would be the breaker, and a stiff-handled Featherduster would be the jumper. :D
 
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Underclocked

.........Whut?.........
Silver Member
In my late teens, before going off to the Navy, my Mom bought a pool room/cafe. One of my duties was to sweep the floor about three times a day with a big old push broom. When action on the tables was slow, I would offer to play someone a game of snooker using the handle from that broom. I had flattened the end opposite the threads and glued a piece of shoe leather on the thing. I could unscrew that handle and be ready in seconds! :)

More often than not, I won. My reference to shooting with a broomstick in the shaft thread was not without foundation. :grin-square:
 

THE FLASH

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I RECENTLY RAN OUT A NINE BALL RACK WITH A PLASTIC BROOMSTICK.. I PERFER WOOD:grin-square:
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
newfangled meaning!

But Hu,

I thought SPF stood for:

wiffer, [P]ushbroom, [F]eatherduster ...??

:D

-Sean

EDIT: Swiffer would be the player, Pushbroom would be the breaker, and a stiff-handled Featherduster would be the jumper. :D


Sean,

Probably something else corrupted over the years, no Swiffer back then. ;)

Hu
 

Big Perm

1pkt 14.1 8 Banks 9 10
Silver Member
Made my first and only pool table when I was 7 years old:

Base was a 2 x 4 piece of plywood
Rails were pieces of baseboard nailed to the plywood, with holes in the right places for pockets
Golf balls were used for the pool balls
A towell was the felt
Broom stick handles were the cues

Country boys are low-tech creative :wink:

Like the story Lou, gracias for a good read....
 

The Hamster

David Malone
Silver Member
The Bobley Match

The Bobley Match (Part 1)

I was sitting in the old Fidget & Fiddle pub one day just minding my own damn business, as it were, when that poltroon Shamus McFinney swaggered in. Shamus has to be one of the most annoying people on God's green earth... and one of the most conceited. Not that he has anything to be conceited about you understand. He's short and fat with a greyish bristling beard and a mustache that he waxes into points at the ends. When you combine that with his red face, bulbous nose, *and white hair, he looks a bit like an evil garden gnome or one of Santa's elves. But the thing about Shamus that irritates me and really burns my ass is that he thinks he plays pool better than anybody in the bar. It ain't so. I'm by far the best player here...

The Fidget & Fiddle on Lampart street is one of the oldest pubs in Dublin. The rooms are small and dark. They converted to electricity a few years back but the old gas lamps are still there for atmosphere in a few places casting flickering shadows on the walls. Besides the Great Room where most everybody gathers, there's a saloon room where ladies were allowed to drink in bygone days. But that part of it is closed because of course, sadly, women are permitted anywhere these days and so the saloon is only used for special occasions and receptions. The Gothic windows in the Great Room are tiny and have stained glass scenes of farming life or hand rolled bottle glass panes you can't see through at all.

There's a dubious looking stuffed fish over the mantle and a not very hygenic looking row of privately owned pewter or china beer steins hanging behind the bar. People have been drinking there for centuries and thus the proprietors take pride in having all the necessities to sustain life. That is, Guinness, Harp, and Newcastle Brown ale are on tap. They even reluctantly carry a few bottles of imported wine to accommodate the yuppies. The oak bar itself is hundreds of years old and shines with the dark patina of the thousands of elbows that have rubbed it over the centuries. The brass
foot rails gleam with Brasso induced luminescence, and the genuine ivory hand beer pumps were crafted sometime in the eighteenth century long before the advent of CO2 cylinders. I think there may be genuine Victorian linen wallpaper on the walls but to tell you the truth they are so stained from smoke that you'd have to look carefully to make out a pattern. All in all, it looks, and smells, like a great old pub in the Irish tradition.

The one concession they've made to modernity is the Valley National bar pool table, imported from America. It was originally a coin-op, I suppose, but that mechanism has long since been ceased to function and you have to ask big Charlie the barkeep for the cue ball if you want a game.

Gambling is not permitted in the bar - that includes the frequent card games and the pool table - gambling being a terrible sin according to the church and one of the seven deadly ones if I recall. Not too many Catholics here in the North of Ireland, but the protestants are just as straight-laced. The Irish are a moral people. Charlie keeps a vigilant eye out for offenders and will not hesitate to introduce your rear end to the cobblestones outside if you're caught, so money games are scarce. It's all about personal pride and reputation instead.

Anyway, as Shamus passed by, he gave me the traditional one fingered salute, which I returned with interest, and then sat himself down at the bar. Without looking up, Charlie unhooked Shamus' personal beer mug from the overhead rack and started pumping draft Guinness into it. As you know, it takes quite a while to pump a real pint of Guinness and so I guess Shamus had some time on his hands.

He chose to use it by announcing in a very loud voice to nobody in particular that he could beat anyone in the bar at pocket billiards. "Are there any pigeons present...? I would be willing to fleece a few pigeons." he said, genially. " I know there are a few... um... chickens present..."

It was aimed at me, of course. He knew no-one else would bother because they had learned by bitter experience that he was far too good. I think the miserable sonofa***** also knew that it would rile me to the point where I couldn't sit still and I'd have to take him on again.

"Shamus," I said. "As you know, there is one person in this bar that you couldn't beat in a million years. And that person is me. I've beat you before and I'll beat you again..."

"Davie, my boy," He said with an evil smile, "On your best day, you couldn't win a single game against me unless I was stricken down with the palsy and couldn't lift either hand to shoot, and even then you'd need the seven and eight..."

"You jumped-up little leprechaun. I've a good mind to take a shillelagh to that thick skull of yours and beat some sense into it..." I said, heatedly.

"Oh, yeah? You and whose army, boyo?" he said, jumping off the stool. "Put 'em up... we'll soon see who's going to beat some sense into who..."

And we squared off and pushed each other in the shoulders and glared at each other eye to eye. It was a mite comical because Shamus is half my size and actually it wasn't very likely a fist fight would break out anyway. We were both merely posturing... big Charlie didn't allow fighting and we knew that if an actual punch was thrown in anger, or a blow was struck, it would be the last time we'd be allowed into the Fidget & Fiddle in our lifetimes. So we stood there calling each other everything under the sun, not willing to back down, but yet not willing to be the one to escalate it into actual physical violence.

Charlie, who had been observing this with some amusement, stood up, picked up the wooden mallet and slammed it into the old Chinese gong on the counter. The sound echoed and shivered in the smoky room, causing a temporary lull in the background hum of conversation.

"Hear, ye... Hear, ye..." he announced loudly. "I think we have all the ingredients here for a Bobley match..."

All the regulars started to cheer, and there was a concerted rush of warm bodies over to the pool table area where they pushed and shoved in their efforts to obtain a prime viewing seat. There was a whole lot of whispering and nudging and anticipation like they knew what was coming. *

"What the hell is a Bobley match?" I said. Shamus looked just as puzzled and stood there with his mouth open.

"It's a Fidget & Fiddle tradition." said Charlie. "When customers come to blows over a pub game, we make them play a Bobley to decide who is really the best. The loser pays for drinks for everyone in the bar... the winner gets his name on the Bobley scroll over the counter and bragging rights for the rest of his born days."

"You mean, we're going to play pool?" said Shamus.

"Exactly. Okay... well, not exactly..." said Charlie. "The rules are a wee bit modified, so listen up. The match will be a set of six races to three. Each player has to choose his weapon to play with... a different one for each set... and it can be anything other than a traditional pool cue."

"You mean like, say, a broomstick?" I asked, warily.

"I mean like a broomstick, or a mop, or even Billy Hennessy's wooden leg if you like. " He said... which caused some laughter amongst the assembled crowd, apart from Billy who hastily tucked his gammy leg under the table to get it out of sight.

"If we're tied at the end of the six races, there's a special tie-breaker. I won't tell you what that is... we've never had to invoke it in all the years we've been having Bobleys. Whoever breaks can use a bar cue to break with so the balls get a better spread. Then both players have to play with the same... ah... implement, taking turns. The usual bar 8-ball rules apply. I'm the referee. I'll toss to see who gets to choose a cue first and who gets to break... alternating breaks after that."

He tossed a half-crown into the air and caught it, covering it with his other hand. "You call." he said nodding to Shamus. "Heads..." said Shamus, but it was tails.

Okay... my call. The first thought that occurred to me was that Father O'Toole's black umbrella might make a serviceable pool cue if we rolled it up tightly, so I walked over and asked him if I could borrow it. "To be sure." he said calmly. "It wouldn't be the first time..."

I broke hard, made a couple of balls, and then racked the house cue. When I picked up the umbrella, it actually felt reasonably good in my hand and I thought to myself that maybe I could play with it. The pointed end was aluminum and worn down to a comfortable rounded shape, about a three-penny bit radius. Just for kicks, I chalked it and to my surprise, it took the chalk reasonably well. I had a straight-in on a stripe in the center pocket and nudged it gently. The feedback was poor because of the ribs under the folds of black nylon cloth, and the sound was an awful thunking noise, but it went in. I saw immediately that I'd have to try and play center ball. The tip stayed on the ball reasonably well, but the metal collar got in the way of a follow through and also prevented me from hitting the cue ball low enough for a draw shot. I thought that with some concentration on where I put the tip, I should be able to get decent follow and even a modicum of side if I didn't exaggerate things.

My usually impeccable shape went out the window, but I managed to sink five balls before hanging one in the side. And I left Shamus without a shot because luckily the cue balls had wedged itself behind the 8-ball on the rail. He tried his best, but using the umbrella for the first time threw him off and he nicked the 8-ball and gave me ball in hand. I broke up the only tied-up ball with my ball in hand and ran out. Ha... that'll teach him. Beat anyone in the bar indeed. The next two games had a similar pattern. Shamus couldn't get the hang of the brolly and I got out to a good lead and made it difficult for Shamus when he did get to the table. Three to nothing - a total wipe-out.

"You didn't know I was the Irish brolly and gamp champion?" I said.

I won't tell you what he said in reply, but I think old Mrs Whistlethorpe's hair would have turned white right there on the spot if it hadn't already been dyed that lovely shade of purple.

There was no hesitation in Shamus' selection for the next set. *He walked over and grabbed one of Johnny Marshal's crutches, ignoring his protests. The crutches were light-weight aluminium with cross-rails for strength and had a large rubber tip. Damn. This looked like a bit more of a challenge. The tip was nearly as wide across as a pool ball with rounded edges and completely flat on the bottom. I guess you could have used it turned sideways, but because of the table rails, the only way you could reasonably hit a ball was if you held it flat. After his break, Shamus made just one single ball with the crutch and then scratched. I found out why when I got my turn. Unlike the umbrella, which allowed relatively precise placement, the width of the crutch tip only allowed for a sort of center ball bunt and any positional play went out the window. I actually missed my first shot completely. Shamus took this as an encouraging sign and crowed a little as he sank his next three balls. I did manage to sink four balls overall but by that time Shamus was out. He won that set three to one.

"Um... did you know I was the Irish crutch champeen? " he said. Smartass. How come he never seems to be able to come up with anything original?

Realizing I was likely going to lose the previous challenge. I'd been looking around for my next weapon. I briefly considered a huge Churchill cigar that someone was chewing on, but it had been smoked a little and the ashes would have been all over the table. Plus it wasn't really long enough. Eventually my eye lit on a long-neck bottle of cherry brandy at the bar. It had been there for ages - nobody drank cherry brandy these days - and it was still stoppered and wrapped with lead-foil. In triumph, I sauntered over and picked it up. As I held it high over my head, the crowd erupted into a round of applause and laughter.

I was thinking I'd be able to tell my children how I beat Shamus McFinney with a bottle of cherry brandy. And such proved to be the case. The big problem with the bottle was that although the neck was longer than a traditional wine bottle, it still tapered away from the opening before widening out at the middle and had a big lump of sealing wax just behind the neck. I found I had to keep an eye on where the wax blob was or it affected the smoothness of my bottle stroke. The lead foil was soft and didn't take any chalk but after the clumsy crutch, it was forgiving and a pleasure to play with. I slaughtered Shamus with it. Three to nothing again.

(continued)
 

The Hamster

David Malone
Silver Member
The Bobley Match

The Bobley Match (Part 2)

"Did I tell you I was the Irish..." I started. "Shut the f*** up." he said. *

Shamus was peering around the bar. "Can I ask the folks in the bar for suggestions?" he said to Charlie.

"Sure..." said Charlie.

"How about using Mrs O'Shaunessy?" yelled out one wag. Poor Mrs O'Shaunessy was practically skin and bones and weighed about sixty pounds so it was a reasonable suggestion even if meant in jest.

"How about the stuffed gar over the mantle...?" suggested someone else. Unfortunately, the fish had its mouth open to display all the razor sharp teeth or it might have served in a pinch. Then Mary Crutchfield waved a hand from the back of the room.

"How about this...?" she said, holding up a French baguette she'd just purchased on the way home. "It's nice and crispy..." Seeing the look of sheer horror on my face, Shamus grabbed it. *

"Stop loafing around, " he said to me, gleefully. "Let's get it on with the bread. I've always fancied myself as being one of the upper crust..."

I cycled through all of the possible bread puns I could think of, but couldn't find anything suitable to top him, so I let it go. Advantage Shamus. This set turned out to be one of the messier ones because the bread, although crispy as Mary had claimed, still wasn't near as hard as a billiard ball and by the third game had begun to disintegrate. Shamus won this set going away. A pattern was emerging here and I didn't like it. It seemed the weirder the weapon, the more likely Shamus was to win with it, while the closer it resembled anything akin to a cue stick, the more likely I was to come out on top. And we were running out of cue-like implements.

Charlie used the break to run his little hand-vac over the cloth and get rid of the crumbs...

"Any more suggestions?" I asked the punters.

"Use your dick..." suggested Sammy Grimes, to a roar of laughter.

"I would, but Shamus here has a six inch stroke... and only a three inch cue... it'd keep slipping out of his hands..." I replied.

This occasioned another gale of laughter and I knew I'd scored big. Shamus' face was red and he was lost for a come-back. Advantage Davie. But I still needed another implement to use as a cue. I considered using the British Army Lee Enfield .303 SMLE Carbine that hung over the bar, but I'd looked at it before and I knew the bayonet was welded on. I was equally sure Charlie wouldn't let us poke his balls with a razor sharp blade. Let me rephrase that...

I mean I was sure Charlie wouldn't let us hit any of his pool balls using the bayonet. I finally settled on the kitchen mop. It had a plastic cap on the end and at least resembled a pool cue in that it was a pole. The mop-head wouldn't come off and so the length of it plus the mop-head acting as a counterweight made it difficult to control. I reasoned I had the advantage there because I am reasonably tall, whereas the munchkin over there had arms that were shorter by a good six inches. The plastic cap on the end of the mop was a shiny plastic that resisted all attempts to add chalk, so I used it as-is. Not bad after the bread cue but it had a tendency to slip off the cue ball. I rubbed it against the brick on the outer wall and scuffed it up a bit. Not bad.

I was soon up by two to one, and despite a bit of a scare when Shamus ran 5 balls in the third game, I closed it out nicely to win the fifth set going away.

"Did I tell you..." I started. He didn't even bother to swear at me this time.

I think he was getting a tad desperate at that point. He needed to get back on even terms to force this thing into a final set... "Aha..." he exclaimed, walking over to the bar. I was a bit befuddled. I couldn't see anything over there that even vaguely resembled a pool cue. He reached over and picked up... a bar stool.

"You can't use that you dang fool..." I protested. "It doesn't even look like a cue. What do you expect us to hit the balls with?"

"The legs..." He said, pointing to one of them.

The damn stool must have weighed twenty-five pounds or more, but he was certainly within his rights to use anything he wanted. I remembered his luck with the other oddities and knew I was in for a struggle in the final set. He developed a method, that I eventually copied, where he balanced the stool on one shoulder and crouched down to get the leg at the right height to attack the balls. It proved substantially harder for me because of my height and I tried a variation where I simply held the entire weight of it in both hands and poked away like that. The sheer heft of it stopped me from doing that for any length of time and I had to keep putting it down. Eventually I reverted to his patented shoulder and crouch methodology, but by then it was too late and he had a substantial lead. Charlie had looked a bit dubious all through this one, but held his tongue. I imagine he was worried about his precious imported Simonis cloth... he claimed it was what real pool players used in Cardiff when they held the World Pool Championships. Well, the cloth survived and I didn't. I lost the set narrowly two to three.

"Did I tell you I'm the Irish bar stool champeen..." said Shamus, poking me in the side.

Charlie was looking a mite serious for a change. He went over and solemnly hit the gong again. "Okay... a tie-breaker is called for..." he said. "Let it be known that this is the very first time the tie-breaker has been invoked in the Fidget & Fiddle since Oliver Cromwell and King Charles the first contested a Bumbley match in the sixteenth century..."

"Did they really have a Bumbley match?" I asked in surprise.

"For God's sake, don't be so damn naive..." he said, behind his hand. "Of course not."

"Here are the rules for the tie-breaker. One game of 8-ball, and one game only. Disinterested third party breaks - the two of you can agree on a breaker, or I'll do it if for you if you can't decide. Any balls made on the break get spotted to keep things even. There will be two, count 'em, two cue balls..." He held up his hands. "One with a red dot... and one with a blue dot. You each get one. Play starts on my signal. Shamus gets high balls and Davie gets low balls. If either player contacts any one of the opponents balls, I'll call a foul, and the other player gets a ball in hand and a free shot before normal play resumes. There are no other rules. Here's what you will be playing with..." and he vanished behind the counter and returned almost immediately with two ancient sticks.

They were somewhat recognizable as cue sticks although they didn't appear to have ferrules or leather tips. There was an angled cut at the butt end of each like a snooker cue and the butt end was lined with some kind of felted material. They looked old... very old. The onlookers gasped.

"Yes," Charlie said in a hushed voice. "The original Bobley maces... their origin is hidden in the mists of time, but it's believed that these belonged to Nathan Bobley who began the tradition we are perpetuating here this evening." The crowd gasped again. "They are incredibly old, and incredibly valuable, and the only time they are ever used is to settle a dispute that can't otherwise be determined. That's how it is tonight.... "

He paused for dramatic effect.

"Let the tie-breaker begin..."

I realized immediately that the Bobley sticks were designed to be used backwards, that is, the butt end with the felt was designed to hit balls and the reason for the cutout was to allow it to glide smoothly on the cloth. The pointed end was squared off and useless, but that didn't stop Shamus from setting up bass-ackwards as it were. I smirked. We both stood waiting on opposite sides of the table while Charlie broke. One striped ball dropped on the break and he spotted it on the head spot.

"Go." he said simply.

Now I don't know if you've ever tried to play pool on a table when someone else is also trying to play pool on the same table. It gets congested, especially on a bar table. And we very nearly came to blows on several occasions when we needed the same position to make a shot. Shamus' use of the wrong end of the cue got him in trouble almost at once and he had to stand there fuming while I used the ball in hand to try and break out my only trouble ball. Then as we started again, he stumbled, lost his balance, and slammed into my shoulder just as I was addressing the ball. I missed, hitting one of his remaining balls.

"Hey, I protested. "That's not fair. He can't do that..."

"He can indeed, and he gets ball in hand as a result," said Shamus. "Weren't you listening? There are no rules against bodily contact."

You can picture for yourself what the rest of the game was like. We were both bleeding and bruised by the time we got down to the last two balls. I had lost a tooth from getting a Bobley stick in the mouth and I think Shamus nose was broken...

We stood there panting, face-to-face, not daring to try the last shot in case we got hammered and missed it. It was a moment that seemed to last an eternity. Then Shamus lost it completely. He threw himself at me in a rage and started raining blows at my face with his Bobley mace. *I wasn't entirely caught by surprise, mainly because I had been almost at the point of doing the same thing, and I launched myself at him. The sticks merely got in the way, so we dropped them and rolled around on the floor, yelling and biting and scratching and punching like two schoolboys behind the gym.

After a while, we were exhausted and Charlie picked us both up by the collars. He had Shamus in one huge hand and me in the other.

"It's a draw..." he said, addressing the crowd. "I'm declaring a draw. The first ever draw in the history of the Bobley matches. This'll go down in history, folks..."

The spectators all stood up to applaud (apart from Johnny Marshal, that is, who hadn't got his crutch back yet). Charlie gestured.

"Okay you two, shake hands..."

We did. Reluctantly.

"You realize you'll have to do this again tomorrow, and you'll have to keep doing it until somebody wins?" said Charlie.
 

JoeyA

Efren's Mini-Tourn BACKER
Silver Member
Good one! If only someone in Daly City, California could tell us if old Vince is still around.

Now who says Lou is just a dark cloud hanging over AZB? Just speak up. I dare ya.

This 70's story is about as good as it gets. ;):thumbup:

JoeyA
 

Bob Callahan

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Okay, I guess I have to confess and come out of the closet--broom closet, that is. I ran 6 balls with a broom once. This isn't some great and glorious story like some have told here...it doesn't involve tons of money, or any famous players, so I suggest you skip it and read the next post down...but if you are still with me, it happened in the most run-down poolroom I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot, since in my past, I haunted some of the worst ones in Appalachia. So, it's the mid-70's, there's sawdust on the floor, the walls and ceiling are insulated with a thick layer of yellow grease, there are heavily used spittoons made from old lard cans sitting at the foot of every table. I was killing time waiting on my soon-to-be ex-wife while she was doing something I don't remember in this tiny, two-traffic-light town in eastern Kentucky. There were some teen/early 20's types playing check on the back table--this tells you what kind of players they weren't. It had loose rails, and lots of big stains that looked more like urine than ceiling leaks. Kinda smelled that way, too. The only light for this table was whatever spilled over from the adjacent table. And let me tell you--it was big action: 50¢. In the hour or so I played, there were about 5 or 6 different players floating in and out of the game. I was playing nip 'n' duck--lose a few, win one, you know the routine: win just enough to pay for the table time. (I kind of like playing on bad tables sometimes to get a little perspective--but not enough to take up golf.) Anyway, when it got near time to leave and pick up the ex, I pointed out that the house stick I had been using wasn't nearly as straight as the tobacco sticks I'd seen in the fields coming in to town. They all agreed, and I said I could probably do better with a broom handle. There was an industrial-strength, pretty much worn-out broom sitting in the back corner--probably used to sweep up the sawdust for the previous 20 years or so.... I picked that darned thing up, made a big show of chalking it to much laughter, and ran 6 balls and out. The balls were setting perfectly for stop-shot shape, which was pretty easy to do with even a fat old broom.

I said, "Boys, you wouldn't mind if I quit, would you?"
 
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