Doug Mountjoy was one of the best snooker players of his generation, winning the 1977 Masters and 1978 UK Championship among other triumphs.
One of the key shots in any frame of snooker is the break-off. Leave your opponent a shot and it could be the only one you play in that frame.
Mountjoy managed to go one better than just leaving the reds safe and playing the standard break-off back to baulk. He miraculously managed to not leave a single red potable for his opponent in bizarre fashion.
Remarkably, the Welsh potter managed to play up behind the green while seeing the triangle of reds return to pretty much perfection.
All these years on, we haven’t seen anything similar happen, with it almost impossible to judge that type of shot.
The break-off remains a problematic shot to this day. Far too often, a player breaks off, leaving a long red on. The standard of quality in today’s game means that we see more and more players getting one chance at a long red and winning the frame.
It became that much of a problem that three-time World Champion Mark Williams decided to change the way he approached his break-off.
Instead of coming back up the table to baulk, he nudges into the back of the pack of reds from the black ball cushion, minimising the chances of leaving an opportunity for his opponent drastically.
He was blasted for the shot deemed negative, with calls to ban the shot even appearing, although they went unanswered.
Current World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan breaks off left handed despite being predominantly right handed. One of the greats of the game, The Rocket adopted this strategy as he felt he could get more side on the ball.
This allows him to get the cue ball more central and minimise the chance of leaving a long red on. It just goes to show how important the shot is, despite it seeming minor.
If only players could replicate that moment of wizardry from Mountjoy, the break off wouldn’t cause players as many problems!