Anyone who has spent any time at all on a snooker table knows that it is easy enough to pot a red ball now and again. And if that pot leaves the cue ball well positioned on a colour, either by luck or intention, there is a good chance of knocking in the colour as well. In other words, even on the first occasion you picked up a cue it is virtually certain that you managed to pot a few reds, and quite likely that you managed the two ball sequence of red followed by colour, which is of course the cornerstone of the game.
Those two balls represented a break – whether made by you in the course of your initiation or bv Ronnie O’sullivan on his way to another tournament victory. If that is so, why is it a matter of Common knowledge that the game is technically so difficult?
Along with billiards it is probably the most technically difficult game ever devised. You know that, whether you are a novice, a casual club player or a good amateur. Millions who watch the game on television know that, including the large proportion who have never been near a table. The top professionals are never allowed to forget it. The obvious strain the pros are under at critical moments in a vital frame is not caused by the TV lights and cameras, which most of them have lived with for so long that they seem normal furniture. Nor, as is frequently assumed, does it stem from the fact that the financial stakes are high. No one ever made a match winning break with his mind on his bank balance. Nor is it simply that losing to a rival is a distasteful experience, to be avoided if at all possible. It feels better to win than to lose, but that universal emotion applies at club level as much as it does at the top. No, the principal reason for the strain, for the intense concentration of the players, and the palpable tension amongst the live audience and in front of millions of TV screens, is that the players are trying to do something very difficult. They know what to do and they know how to do it. All they have to do strike the cue ball exactly right purely technical matter. If they do it they will succeed. If they do not, they will fail.’
The fundamental skill of striking the cue ball exactly right what snooker is all about. Striking the cue ball right, not just now and again, which anyone can do, but again, and again and again.