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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
Two Ball Contact Leaves

Marcus Evans, one of the top 30 players in the World, considers leaves after pegging out your opponent’s ball and your own in an Advanced Rules game conceding a contact.

The first thing to understand about the two-ball ending is that you shouldn't be too worried about your opponent getting one or two hoops ahead early on. For example, if you were to leave your ball in corner III and they just took the lift and got good position at 1, the standard response is to lurk near corner IV. Unless they're very confident with their shooting, they will run 1 and take position at 2, you take position at 1; they make 2 and take position at 3, etc. Soon, you're in front of 3 while they're making 4 (this all assumes an easy lawn where it is straightforward to take position at the next hoop) and they can't take position at 5 (in my opinion, though I've seen it done many times) because you can run 3 and have a 7-10-yarder at them. So being behind early on is no real disadvantage.

However, I still wouldn't leave a ball in corner III. For one thing, I'd be slightly worried about the possibility of their taking off to and making 1, making 2, and then having an effectively free shot at the ball in III with a chance to finish if they hit. This scenario is unlikely but certainly possible. I also like to try to get a two-ball break myself, from which (in easy conditions) I'd expect to make an average of 7 hoops if I can run 1 under control. Earlier this year I was having a TPO with partner clip on 2, and I managed to do two POPs and get it into the jaws of 4 before making rover. I didn't want it in the middle of 4 because I felt it was too easy for the opponent to play a thick take-off to 1 sending my ball some distance out of the jaws. Since I was unable to get it to the optimum position to prevent this, I just played the rush-peel and sent it North so that hoop 5 was in the way of approaching 1.

If both remaining clips are for 1, I usually don't bother with POPs (since you need at least two - being for hoop 2 with opponent on hoop 1 is no advantage at all - and this can put the TPO at risk) and just leave partner on the East boundary so that either hoop 4 or hoop 5 is blocking the approach to 1. The opponent has a choice of trying to come inside the hoop and approach 1 to within a couple of feet (difficult at that distance) or go round the hoop and have a 5-yard hoop 1 (which will likely be angled). Of my TPOs which finished this way in the President’s Cup this year, I believe Jack Wicks approached 1 but failed it giving me a 12-yarder (which I missed, if I remember correctly), Stephen Mulliner failed to get in front but took position giving me a 20-yarder (I went to near corner IV and the game played out very similarly to my scenario above), and Mark Avery hit hoop 4 with the striker's ball on the approach shot, took position at 1 giving me a 10-yarder which I hit and then went to 2-back. I feel that all three games were a clear success for the tactic; I lost to Jack due to some poor tactical choices and some even worse strokes.

Next year I may experiment with leaving the striker's ball tighter to hoop 4, but I'm not convinced that that will work. I may also go to 1-back before TPOing more often, particularly against the very top players, but as my record shows, I'm quite proficient at winning the two-ball ending from any position against most opponents.

Marcus

1. TPO = Triple Peel on Opponent
2. POP = Peel On Partner

Author: Marcus Evans
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Updated 28.i.16
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