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Snooker story m - (2 Parts)


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Right, err, snooker. Well, if you're absolutely desperate to know what I'm on about, http://www.billiardworld.com/snooker.html are the rules. But otherwise, 15 reds worth one point each, 6 colours going 2,3,4,5,6,7 for yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, black. Each player pots red, colour, red, colour etc, clocking up points until they miss and the other guy gets a go. When all the reds are gone, you pot a final colour of your choice, and then all the colours going up in points. Barring any points given away for missing balls completely, potting the wrong kind of ball, the white, or hitting a ball you weren't supposed to hit, all of which give points to your opponent, the maximum score you can get is 147.

Apart from that, I used a few little slang terms in here that I'll explain. As I know NOTHING about pool other than the equivalent of what I just wrote about snooker, and I've always known these terms, I'm sorry if I'm explaining things which are either the same in pool or totally obvious to anyone of intelligence, because I can't tell.

frame - from all the balls on the table to one person winning (when either all the balls are gone or they lead by enough that the other guy can't catch up even if they pot everything, or the other guy concedes). Matches have a best of _ frame make up. Here it's best of 9. So the first person to 5 wins, and there are up to 9 frames.

break off - to play the first shot, hitting the triangle of reds in whatever way he likes. The players alternate (I think) break-off shots.

Sight - looking along the cue in preparation to playing the shot

Pot - getting the ball you want to get into the pocket

leave the red on - miss it, and knock it into a position where Mark can easily pot it

safety play - when you can't pot any balls easily, or you don't want to, you play a safety shot, with the aim of stopping the other person (who is going to get his go because you haven't potted a ball), from being able to pot any balls that he might want to.

the run of the balls - basically, luck. Everyone needs it every once in a while, if they are playing a risky safety shot. They might hit other balls, and sometimes they'll go over a pocket or whatever, leaving the other player easy shots, in which case you don't have the run of the balls, or they'll go completely safe by accident, in which case you do.

Sorry about all that if I'm rambling, just enjoy the story....

“Eh’SHEW!” Neil Robertson sighed and blew his nose for what felt like the hundredth time that night. Of all the days for this cold to happen. He was going to get the 5 minute call very soon, and then have to walk out in front of god knew how many people and play in a quarter-final match against Mark Williams, former World Champion. Stressful enough, this being a good tournament, although not the World Championship, without all this.

“5 minutes, Mr Robertson!” a young woman’s voice called through the wood of his door.

“Thank you,” he managed to croak out, before shutting his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose in an effort to get some air through it and dispel his nerves. It did neither. It was at times like this that he wished he’d never come from Australia. But the moment of pessimism soon passed, and he was almost back to his normal self as he looked at his cue in its case, leaning against the dressing room door. Who was he kidding? He couldn’t play people like Mark Williams at home. This was a fantastic opportunity for him; he’d never been on better form. Then his nose tingled, and he pitched forward, uncontrollably as always, only just avoiding hitting his head on the surface in front.

“Eh’SHEW!! Eh’ISHEWW! SHEWW!” Reaching for a tissue that was nearly falling apart already, Neil blew his nose again, and tried to get himself ready for the coming match. He had a pack of tissues in his waistcoat pocket that ought to last him the first frame, when he could get some more, and he felt about as good as he was likely to get. Better get out there then.

As Neil walked into the floodlit arena, to the cheers of the crowd, the bright lights almost blinded him, and although not normally sensitive to them, his nose itched again. He held his breath desperately, as he sped towards his seat, barely noticing the referee’s announcement of Mark Williams’ entry. As soon as he sat down he scrubbed at his nose hard with the knuckles of his right hand, trying to unclasp the buckles on his cue case with his left. He saw Mark do the same, and managed to open the case at last, retrieving his cue. It was like a lifeline. This was why he played snooker: with a cue in his hand he was strong, and he felt unbeatable, although only time would tell tonight. The referee, now finished with his introductions, stepped forward, and shook both competitors’ hands. Neil gave Mark a smile that he hoped was friendly, although he couldn’t be sure, feeling rather dull. It was Mark to break off.

The game progressed in Neil’s favour: he was getting lucky with the balls, and seemed on good form, keeping Mark from the table more than he’d expected to in the first frame. What was more, he hadn’t needed to sneeze at all since he’d started playing, as though the need not to was actually stopping him. He’d been afraid that the opposite would happen: that he’d sneeze more because it would be so embarrassing, but he was just starting to feel alright again. He had a 32 point lead, and everything seemed to be going better than expected.

Unfortunately, just as he was about to sight an easy red, the tickle in his nose returned stronger than ever. He had two options, and not long to make the choice. He could try and pot the red before he absolutely had to sneeze, because Neil knew at once that this feeling was not going to go away, and only get stronger if he held it back. That might mean missing the shot if he sneezed at the wrong moment, or even because he might rush it. 32 points wasn’t very much, and he could leave the red on for Mark. Or, he could turn away before the shot and sneeze, and then hope that the tickle would go away and take the shot. But the cameras were on him, and although not normally a self-conscious person, Neil didn’t fancy sneezing in front of god knew how many viewers at home. However, he didn’t have as much time as he’d bargained for, and Neil barely had a chance to lift his cue from the table so that it didn’t hit anything by accident, and cover his mouth with a hasty hand before his body threw itself forward.

“Etch’EWW!” He kept his hand over his nose and mouth and his eyes down, flushed with embarrassment. He sniffed, not wanting to get a tissue out, at least until he’d played the wretched shot. He potted the red without much difficulty, and quickly got out a tissue and blew his nose surreptitiously, or as surreptitiously as possible while being watched by a good few people in an arena. After that, it wasn’t long until all the reds were gone, and he took the first frame. The match was best of 9: first person to 5 wins.

Neil took the opportunity at the end of the first frame to go to the toilets and try to sort himself out. If he was going to sneeze, then that was that, and he would just have to get on with it and try not to let it affect his game. He was cuing well, and he didn’t feel too ill or dopey. He could win this match if he tried hard and concentrated. He quickly made his way back to the auditorium.

Another 2 frames followed, and Neil took both, without incident. He was feeling really on top of his game now, and thrilled to be playing Mark Williams, and even better, to be winning 3-0. It was a long way to go still, but it was a huge advantage. There was only one more frame before the mid-session interval, but it was likely to be a tricky one. Mark would be pretty desperate to get at least one back before the interval: 4-0 when you only need 5 would be catastrophic. 3-0 was pretty bad. As he broke off, Neil resolved that this frame wasn’t going without a fight. Unfortunately, neither was his cold, although he didn’t yet know it.

After a stressful but exciting exchange of safety play, where Neil didn’t get the run of the balls at all, Mark Williams got the chance to make Neil sit in his chair for a while. It was at this point that his sinuses started bothering him again. He tried to stop his nose itching by rubbing it, but it didn’t seem to stop at all. He found after a few minutes that he was barely concentrating on what Mark was doing, just trying not to sneeze. So much for his pep talk about just getting on with things. Suddenly, his nose gave a particularly painful twinge, and Neil’s breath hitched without him being able to stop it. Quickly grabbing a tissue, and not wanting to put Mark off, he stifled as quietly as possible.

“Heh’ISH! TCH! KSSSH!!” Glancing around, he caught Mark’s eye and looked away quickly. He didn’t seem to have put him off, though, which was good. The last thing he needed was for the referee to ask him to ‘try and sneeze more quietly’, or anything embarrassing like that. It was like when a former player had complained that his competitor was putting him off by having too many toilet breaks, when they guy had a bladder problem. Nothing could be done, but it shadowed the match, and if Mark lost this, he might use it to explain.

Mark cleared the table within minutes, and the mid-session interval commenced at 3-1. A very good start for the young Australian, as John Virgo remarked to Willie Thorne in the commentary box. Little did he know that Neil was now back in his dressing room in the midst of a massive sneezing fit. It seemed as though all his cold had been building up for the entire match.

“Eh’SHEW! Heh’KSHEEW!! Heh’ISSHEW!! Eh’SHEWWW!” Neil groaned, and blew his nose in the tiny space of time before his sinuses reacted again. “Eh’PSHEEW! Eh’TSHEEEW!” At least this didn’t happen while I was playing, he thought, nearly five minutes later when the fit finally abated, eyes and nose streaming. What the hell am I going to do now?

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Phwoarr! I loved, loved, loved it, and I can't STAND snooker! :hug: Your description of his sneezes was just :blushing: And I love that whole sneezing in an incredibly awkward situation thang, and the guy's trying to be all professional...yummy. You seem to suggest there might be a continuation of it, and I'd be very happy to see more.

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Very, very nice story! Well written, good insight into Neil's thoughts and feelings, good description of his sneezing, just enough of Neil's embarrassment is shown to make us feel sympathetic, wonderful overall. I liked this story very much despite the fact that I don't know Thing One about snooker. More, please? :yes:

P.S. For those of us who don't know what Neil looks like, you might add in some descriptions so we can picture him vividly.

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Ah yes, sorry about that. Got carried away in the heat of having to write down a snooker match. Here's the second (and final part), complete with some description.

Having managed to pull himself together in the mid-session interval, the blonde, 24-year-old Australian, strode back into the arena with a little more optimism. He still wasn’t feeling great though, and not nearly as well as he had been at the start of the match, which felt like years ago already. He shook Mark’s hand, hoping as he did so that the fellow player wouldn’t catch his cold from it, and sat down for Mark to take the break off shot.

Neil managed to accumulate a 58 point lead in the 5th frame, with only a few reds left, and was just sighting along his cue for a tricky pot for the black, when his nose tingled, and before he knew it he sneezed violently.

“Eh’TSHEEEW!!” Sighing, but too fed up and tired of his cold to get too embarrassed, he wiped his watering eyes and prepared to sight again. Then he noticed the referee gesturing to the blue, near his left elbow. Very near to his left elbow. The ref looked apologetic, but firm.

“Mark Williams, four points,” he announced loudly, and then in an undertone, “sorry, Mr Robertson, it’s the rules. Neil mumbled an apology as the referee replaced the blue, which had luckily been on its spot, so there was no problem with where it had been. The referee shook his head, smiling, “nothing you could have done, don’t worry about it.” Neil wished he could take that advice, but it preyed on his mind, with the result that he missed the next but one shot, but he took the frame anyway, with his lead. It was 4-1. Neil was actually starting to think he’d win. In the break he went back to the toilets, but wasn’t really worried. It could all be over in a frame. He could only hope, because his cold was draining him of energy, and he could feel his nose getting sore from all the times he’d rubbed it that evening.

He broke off badly, leaving Mark an easy red to a corner pocket, and was left to try and avoid thinking about it while sitting in his seat, watching Mark make his break. However, after only a few seconds, he was provided with a distraction: he needed to sneeze yet again. Why was it whenever he was sitting down? Neil was too tired to care, but he stifled anyway, to try and minimise the distraction for Mark.

“Heh’TCH! TCH!! Heh’SHEWWW!” He sneezed loudly the last time, glancing up in embarrassment. Mark was sighting a red, but he met his eyes and widened his eyes in what Neil thought was probably sympathy. The young man watched the older Welshman build up a good break. Neil rubbed at his eyes and ran a hand through his short, spiked blonde hair, trying to get a grip of himself. He should be concentrating on what Mark was doing, and he just couldn’t seem to focus. In the end it didn’t matter, as Mark missed a red soon afterwards, but still took the next frame. Neil vaguely registered that this would be a big boost for him, and that he needed to try and win the next frame a lot. 4-2 was ok, but 4-3 would be worrying, and Neil really just wanted the match over and done with.

Luckily for Neil, whose nose now felt as though it was packed solid with cotton wool, Mark broke off badly, and left him a red to the corner pocket, which he potted easily. His cold didn’t seem to be affecting his game, he was glad to notice, and he quickly built up a 30 point lead, without having to stop and sneeze again. But the happiness was to be short-lived, as his nose tickled painfully. Neil was fed up with it, and decided to take a different tack. He didn’t want to be embarrassed any more. He’d never been self-conscious before, and didn’t intend to start now. Standing up from where he was sighting a tricky red, he held up a hand dramatically to the auditorium, before jerking forward.

“Heh’SHEWW!” As he pulled out a tissue from his waistcoat pocket, there was a chorus of ‘bless you’s from the audience, and indeed from the referee, who just looked relieved he hadn’t elbowed any more balls. Neil grinned a little sheepishly, wondering what the commentators had to say. He potted the black, and continued. Soon there were only two reds left, and it occurred to Neil that he could try for a 147. He hadn’t potted any colours other than blacks; and he’d already one the match: the defeated look on Mark Williams’ face told him that the Welshman was going to be trying any snooker comebacks. He was in for a real chance. With this in mind, he got himself in position, potting the last few reds, and the yellow and green. Soon the brown and blue followed them into the corner pockets. There was just the pink, slightly off its spot, and awkward to the bottom right corner. Neil imagined that he could hear hundreds of held breaths, his own among them. If he got a 147 he’d get £30 000 for it, plus another £10 000 if no one else got one or higher. The pink rolled gently into the pocket. He was nice on the black. He sighted carefully, and cued smoothly. The black was in. He had done it. Grinning at the huge round of applause, he glanced around the stadium. Everyone was cheering him. Even Mark Williams was grinning, and came forwards to shake his hand. Neil took it eagerly.

“Good game,” said the older player, the gentleman. Neil just grinned, shaking the ref’s hand as well. He was through to the semis, and with a 147 under his belt. He made to walk out of the auditorium, but a young woman held out a programme for him to sign, and he stopped.

“Who’s it to?” He asked, his Australian drawl sounding hoarse after so long without speaking above a murmur.

“Georgia,” she said shyly, bright red with embarrassment. He took the pen and signed ‘to Georgia, my best wishes, Neil x’. And handed it back.

“Did you en-” he broke off, eyebrows creasing, nostrils flaring, and turned aside just in time, “Heh’ISSHEWWW!!!”

“Bless you,” she said, still very shyly. Neil grinned sheepishly.

“Sorry ‘bout that. Did you enjoy the game?” She nodded enthusiastically.

“Oh yes, I always knew you’d win.” A friend, another girl, tapped her on the shoulder, and gave him another shy grin. Georgia turned back, “thanks for the autograph,” she murmured. Neil smiled, and watched her turn away, before making his own way back to the dressing room.

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Thank you! I LOVED that! It has been such a fantasy of mine, snooker players sneezing during matches! Good choice with Neil Robertson too, he's cute. I love the fact that he gets embarrassed because it's such an inappropriate time and place to sneeze. Loved it!

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