Snooker Book and Video Reviews

On this page we will review new and old snooker books and videos. Some of the books, including Stephen Hendry's Masterclass, could have been ordered by clicking the links to Amazon.co.uk below, but others are out of print (including Masterclass) and can often be found by browsing on-line bookstores. The first book we review is Stephen Hendry's Masterclass.

Snooker Masterclass - Stephen Hendry (Bloomsbury 1995)

{short description of image}Stephen Hendry has gone through all the popularity phases it is possible to go through during his career. As a young blonde-haired 'tacker', he was adored as the first player to challenge Steve Davis' supremacy in the eighties. As an almost perpetual winner himself in the nineties, he has been equally hated by many. When his form declined, he was once more considered personable and 'almost human', but one can imagine that his popularity will wane once more with his return to the top. Perhaps Prince Edward was right when he said we hate winners! (Don't quote me on that, I might be savaged by the Mirror!)
The book has eleven chapters and a glossary of snooker terms at the back, including definitions on such terms as check side, the nap and that 'miss' rule again. Stephen describes the latter as 'sensible in essence' and goes on to say that 'A competent referee takes into account the awkwardness of a shot as well as the overall standard of a player in deciding whether or not to call a miss.' Enough said for now! The first three chapters of Masterclass deal with the basics, including selecting a cue, stance, bridge, etc, and chapter four deals with the theory of potting. Other types of shots and cue-ball control form the basis of chapters five to eight, followed in chapter nine by a discussion of tactics and in chapter ten by a very important consideration, the mental approach to the game. This is the aspect of the game where good players, even professionals, often lose out to a supposedly inferior player. From a man who has won more titles than anyone else, what is said in this chapter is very enlightening, and includes comments such as ' Although it is sometimes hard, never let the frame situation affect your outlook on a shot' and 'If they are honest, all players will admit to having suffered from jangling nerve-ends at one time or another'. Substitute 'all the time' in the case of some players I have watched, including my own team-members!
Few professional players writing books about snooker can resist the temptation, indeed necessity, to glorify their own careers, and Stephen Hendry is no exception. Obviously the book only covers the period up to 1994, but it is interesting that unlike many other top players, Stephen did not start playing until he was thirteen. The rest of his progress needs no elaboration from me, so I'll leave you to read the book for yourself if I have whetted your appetite sufficiently. The book is nothing like as detailed in terms of technique as Joe Davis' 'How I play Snooker' (to be described in the future), but is nicely illustrated with colour photos of Stephen and table diagrams, also in colour. It would be nice if such books were revised and updated occasionally, as the information in many of them is clearly incomplete as it stands. Now that Stephen has achieved his record-breaking seventh title, no doubt we shall soon be receiving that update! As I wrote this, Stephen was once again in a Final, at the British Open in Plymouth, against Peter Ebdon and, of course, he won (9-5), making a 147 on the way!

Snooker & Billiards - Technique, Tactics, Training by Clive Everton (Crowood Press, 1991)

{short description of image}Clive Everton, editor of 'Snooker Scene' magazine for many years, a former player, pundit and snooker commentator, must be respected by all concerned when it comes to snooker books. He has an authoritative, some would say 'academic' aura about him which may put some off, but appeals to the likes of myself, who have embraced similar traditions. Therefore, when I approached this book, I expected it to be knowledgeable and somewhat erudite, with all the basics set down in coherent fashion. And I was not to be disappointed. There are four parts to the book, the first three parts dealing with snooker and Part 4 covering billiards. Part 1 includes some history, the objectives of the game, the rules and equipment. Part 2 deals with skills and techniques, the grip, stun, screw and side, potting, the rest, and, very important, correcting faults in technique and practice exercises. Part 3 covers tactics, breakbuilding, choice of shots, safety play and hints on matchplay.
Throughout the book there are good colour photographs and table diagrams to illustrate the points and techniques being covered. On the snooker front, one can see that all the basics are covered for the novice or average player who wants to become a match-winner. There are many 'self-made' players out there, who may not have the talent of a Ronnie O'Sullivan or a Mark Williams, but it is possible to approach their standards by solid technique and practice. This book sends you admirably on your way to achieving that aim. All you need then is time, experience, a good deal of willingness to learn and to practise diligently, often on your own.
But for most of us, with only average talent, the world of the professional circuit is a dream we shall never fulfil. Use this book instead to improve your game to its full potential and perhaps win a few local league matches in most cases. I must not be too pessimistic, however. Perhaps some of you reading this out there do have the necessary talent and commitment to succeed. Whatever your standard, this could be the book for you. Try it and find out. (Commission to me, please, Clive!) Click the image above to order!

How to Play Snooker - a step-by -step guide by Liz French (Jarrold, 1990) Click the book to order!

cover jpg For those readers who have seen snooker on television or in their club and are interested in taking it up, this book provides a very basic guide to the rules and techniques involved in playing the game. It is a book of 48 pages, lavishly illustrated with coloured drawings and diagrams, and contains the basics of stance, spins, cueing and practice techniques for the novice player. Anyone who has advanced beyond the novice stage may find something of interest, but other books already recommended are likely to prove more useful to you than this one. However, as stated, anyone taking up the game for the first time will find this little book simple and clear to follow, with a glossary of snooker terms at the back. Some of the rules pages may need to be revised in view of recent rule changes, for instance on page 23 it states that it is the player's responsibility to ensure that a ball is correctly re-spotted. This is no longer the case, and no foul is involved. However, for value for money you could do worse than use this book as your first snooker 'primer'.
Click the picture to order this book!

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