English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : October 1996

The Amateur Billiard Player : October 1996


Ivan Stevanage

Roy Bacon of Romford, a National Billiards and Snooker Coach, has one of the finest
full-sized tables in the country. Uniquely for English equipment the bed is heated. The
cushion rails are fitted with steel block reinforcement so that the rebound everywhere is true.

Needless to say a ball played or thrown as hard as possible never jumps. The pockets are
strictly standard.

Having just had a new cloth fitted, his test ramp 3.5″high, delivered a ball from the
baulk end to the top cushion and back, 6″ past the pink spot. A hard thrown ball also from the
baulk end went 4.75 lengths. It is standard practice to lay the nap with a dampened doth
covered block prior to ironing. Slightly dampening a spot on the top cushion he found, much
to his surprise, that the ball from the ramp returned from the damp spot 9″past the pink spot.

He then soaked a dean cloth with water so that it was thoroughly but not sopping wet and
dampened the nose areas of the whole lengths of the top and bottom cushions. A thrown ball
now went a whopping 6.75 lengths! An increase of 42%! The ramp now delivered the ball 18″
past the pink spot! An increase of about 7%!

One thing is dear from these simple experiments – the damp cushions increase the
table speed dramatically. Interestingly, the faster the ball approaches the dampened
cushion(s), the more the effect becomes!

Would these effects work on a table not fitted with steel block cushions? I tried it on
6-3 Social and 3 Snooker Club tables. A thrown ball went from a low of 4.25 lengths to a
high of 4.75, say an average of 4.5 lengths. After damping they averaged 5.5 lengths, an
increase of 22%.

What about side? My first guess was that the friction would decrease on the damp
cushion so that the side would take’ less. I am happy to report that I was wrong!


Photo of Table Diagram (3k)

Look at the diagram. Place a ball on the black spot. Playing
the brown spot directly up the table just to miss the ball, with
of left-hand side, it is possible to put the cue ball into the left side
pocket or better. On a dampened top cushion with
less side than previously, the cue ball can be made to go at
6″higher up the cushion.

Wow much higher? That’s for you to find out!!!

Considering that the modern billiards table – as we know it – is almost 140 years old,
millions have and still play on it, millions of words have been written about billiards and
snooker, it is astonishing that this way of increasing table speed – and side – has not hitherto
been documented.

I hereby name this the BACON EFFECT. This is simple, foolproof and reversible. It
does the table no harm because at normal room temperature the cushions dry out in a few

Unfortunately, this works only on the English table. Full size Carom (pocketless) and
Pool tables with their cut-edged cushions don’t respond.

How does it work? Water is incompressible and investigations continue. Comments
and suggestions are invited.

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