I love billiards. In college when I played almost daily the game was usually 8-ball, but I really don’t care if it’s 9-ball, straight pool, or snooker. And once in a while a sports channel will run a marathon of billiards matches. My wife jokes the only reason I like it is because of the women players. I point out that I’m watching the guys too, although the nice thing about billiards is it’s one of the few sports where the women get at least as much respect as the men.
One of those players in Jeanette Lee, whose birthday is today.
Lee started playing pool at the age of eighteen, which is a little unusual in the world of billiards. Most players have parents who played or owned tables and picked up a cue almost as soon as they could walk. But being a late bloomer didn’t stop Lee from turning professional just three years later and racking up an impressive list of titles. She’s also a regular commentator on those all-too-rare occasions when one of the sports networks broadcasts a billiards match–usually one of the US nine-ball championships. And every issue of Billiards Digest has her “Dear Jeanette” column where she answers pool-related questions.
She was also diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of thirteen and underwent multiple painful surgeries but would continue to suffer severe pain throughout her career. And she still supports and promotes the Scoliosis Research Society, has been the National Spokesperson for The Scoliosis Association, and also works for the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Oh yeah, she’s also got the coolest pool player nickname ever: “The Black Widow”.
Well, they are very attractive spiders.
I used to be quasi-obsessed with watching 9-ball tournaments because of the precision and control the players are able to pull off. It never ceases to amaze me how well they can plan ahead.
I’m decent enough at billiards that I got recruited into my college’s pool team in grad school, but I never earned any cool nicknames like The Black Widow, only the occasional muttered derogatory term after I’d snookered my opponent for the third time in a row. I’m kind of a jerk when I have a cue in my hand.
I used to play snooker with an English guy whose main talent was snookering his opponents. My main talent was getting out of any trap he could set. Being English he never muttered anything rude. He’d just begrudgingly say, “Nice shot.”
And it is amazing how well the pros can plan ahead. Sometimes when Lee or another professional is commentating for a match she’ll say something like, “That’s going to be a good setup for the next shot…” and all I can think is, damn, I’m not sure I could make the first shot.
Very attractive post, Chris. Thanks!
Thank you for this attractive comment.
I like playing a bit of pool at the pub, and interestingly, the more I drink the better I get. I don’t mean the better I *seem to myself because I am drunk*, like what happens when I write drunk, or even have a conversation, but I actually improve. When I start, stone cold sober, I can barely hit anything.
And of course, even pissed as a fart I’m not that good. But a few times I’ve come from behind to snatch victory which is great fun, especially when I’ve beaten a guy.
The pub really is the best place to play pool. I used to watch televised snooker matches when I was in the UK and I loved it that the players would sit there with a pint. And I understood it too. I’m sure it helped take some of the tension out.
Of course drunk or sober I can barely hit anything and I’m not even sure of the proper way to hold a pool cue. It’s odd that I love a game I play so rarely.