Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fire And Balls

I had been planning to use this post for a quick review of Stephen Donaldson's Gildenfire, which I picked up from Barter Books a little while ago.  That plan lasted right up until I actually read it.  Billed as "an untold episode from The Illearth War", it's pretty much a single chapter that Donaldson cut from the book, with the print blown up so it can fill a 94 page hardback book.

It's not bad, by any means (Donaldson cut it for narrative reasons, and entirely correctly), but I feel slightly ripped off just for paying £3.50 for it second hand.  It hardly helps that the "missing" story it purports to tell was actually three times as long, with this slice being apparently the least interesting.

That's pretty much all there is to say on the subject.  So let's talk about something altogether more awesome: power snooker!

I had no idea this existed until I happened to stumble across this year's semi-final between O'Sullivan and Robertson.  It's like someone watched those "Extra time multi-ball!" ads from a few years ago and decided to apply it to snooker.  Instead of a frame limit, the game has a half hour clock.  Instead of counting the frames, the scores just keep being added to until the timer runs out (O'Sullivan was north of 500 by the time the match ended).  There's only twenty seconds allowed per shot (on pain of a 20 point penalty), and only nine reds at break-off, but what makes it really insane is that one of the red balls is the "power ball", which once potted doubles the score of all other balls for the next two minutes, irrespective of who's at the table. In addition, anything potted from behind the baulk line is worth double points as well (quadruple once the power ball is in effect).

The whole thing is ludicrously, delightfully mental, and the crowd are encouraged to add to the madness with chants and boos.  Apparently the game is only a shade over a year old, but I hope it becomes a permanent fixture.  As much as I love snooker, when the funniest moment your game of choice has to offer is "Snooker Loopy", it's time to shake things up a little.

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