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Magic 8-Ball Pool

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I love playing pool. It's a great game, marred only by the fact that I'm not very good at it. Unfortunately I also like betting on the outcome of my games, which usually ends up hurting not only my pride but also my wallet. Most other rubbish pool players I can beat, but every now and again I find myself playing against someone who, after their first couple of shots, I know I'm going to lose to. I don't play a consistent game, but sometimes the balls fall in my favour (no sniggering at the back, there), and sheer luck will occasionally lend me an apparent flash of brilliance.

So I think a little more randomness should be allowed into the game. There's nothing worse than starting a game with someone you've never played before, letting them break, and then, after that first shot, knowing that you're hopelessly outclassed and bound to lose. Sometimes you just know that the only chance you have of winning is by some random act of God, and lightning hardly ever ventures into pool halls. Pool cues just aren't conductive enough, apparently.

Anyway, in order to counter my lack of skill, I reckon the magic eight ball should be re-introduced into the green-baize battlefield, but in a slightly different guise. A transparent ball, filled with some kind of very dense liquid, with a multi-sided, lighter-than-the-liquid multi-sided dice would suffice. The ball would have the same weight as a pool ball, but, when it came to rest, a short message would eventually snake its way to the surface. "Have another shot", it might say, or "Your opponent now has a free table" (and so can hit any ball he wants). "The stakes are upped" - any bets on the outcome have to be raised; "The table is unclear" - nothing happens; "Shoot your next shot one-handed" - well-nigh impossible; or, the option that arises once in a blue moon - "Swop colours with your opponent". The mixture of skill and randomness might make for a more exciting game. Especially if people are staking whole entire pounds (dollars) on the game, rather than the pennies (cents?) I usually play for.

Still, I can't decide whether it should be the cue ball or the black ball that has such prescriptive powers. Make it the cue ball and randomness kicks in at every stroke; but if it's the black ball (which is a dangerous ball anyway - you don't want to sink it before you're done with your colours), then the game might be a bit more strategic, up to a point. Don't even nudge the 8-ball, because then the course of the game could turn in an instant...

As to liquids within the balls (now I'm sure anyone under the age of 18 is wetting themselves with double-entendre inspired laughter): apparently bat-milk is quite viscous. That would do for the white cue ball. Squid ink is also quite heavy- might be the perfect medium for the 8-ball variation.

They used to kill elephants just to make snooker balls from their tusks. Bat-milkers and squid-scarers are a tad more humane, if a little harder to find.

Any comparisons to goldfish in spherical bowls will be swiftly ignored.

lostdog, Oct 15 2003

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       A ball with a liquid centre will not roll very much at all. Try spinning a raw egg and a hard boiled egg to see this. :)
Detly, Oct 15 2003
  

       + Sweet. When can you get this baked?
Eugene, Oct 16 2003
  

       On a more professional level, maybe it would tell you which ball you must hit next.
phundug, Oct 16 2003
  

       But that's how I play anyway.
Detly, Oct 16 2003
  

       UB's right, white ball for randomness. Although you still have to deal with the physics of it not wobbling around after your shot.
lintkeeper2, Oct 16 2003
  

       // Although you still have to deal with the physics of it not wobbling around after your shot. //   

       Or getting it to roll in the first place. :P
Detly, Oct 16 2003
  

       Why not use the 8ball and the cue ball, with interacting directions. Or computerize the whole thing so that interactions between any and all of the balls give more subtle directions: (#3 touching cue ball, #5 touching 8ball, "player must shoot left handed").
Jamoni, Mar 26 2004
  
      
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