The game of life and the game of snooker: similarities and lessons

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The game of snooker is pretty much like cycling, where the knowledge settles in like forever. Even at that, I was shocked that I could still flow with the game, given that I last played it 10-12 years ago. Yes, I had a privileged childhood, one that saw me try my hands on many things, including soccer, tennis and trading.

The big deal about today’s snooker outing is that it made more sense to me than it did the last time I did. This time, as different from last time, the game reflected a picture of real life and became my teacher. I just could see next to everything that obtains in life depicted on the game.

And so, I wish to share on this platform some of those facts of life that echoes from the snooker game. To say the least, and in a sense, life is snooker.

1. The variety of balls on a green board: The very appearance of the game speaks volumes about life already. Variety is the spice of life we say; the variegated colours of the snooker balls re-echoes this. We say men are in sizes, and the differential values of the balls reflect this. Plus, we say the land is green, and the snooker board itself is a green one. And so, facing a snooker board is like facing life.

2. Everyone starts out equal: All men are created equal – though not really born equal, given the unfair advantage some enjoy from birth. For the game of snooker, both players start out equal; no one owns either of the “spot” or “strip” balls from the word go. Eventually, the first “potting” makes that decision; the first “potter” gets what he sent into the “pocket.”

3. Chance and choice play out on the board: Pretty much like life, we get both what we bargained for and what we didn’t bargain for. You want to pot your ball and you find that it was the other guy’s own that went in; you try to do this and the other undesirable thing got done. And truth is that more than once in a given game one would find the odds in one’s favour. Of course, it is more of choice: you want something, you go get it!

4. The rules reign supreme: Like life, it is a game of rules; many rules. And you’ve to abide by them or be punished. It is squarely a game of sowing and reaping; no excuses whatsoever! The punishments are straightforward, and may be as much as loss of the game itself. So, the player must behave him or herself and be very open to accepting those punishments.

5. Vision is everything: Vision means as much in snooker as it is in life. You just need to see well enough and calculate moves ahead. Without vision in life one perishes; without vision in snooker one loses. That’s just how it works.

6. Your word is your bond: There are a number of interesting ways of losing a snooker game. The most annoying one is the best teacher. After potting all of one’s balls, the decider of the game is the potting of the “black ball.” But it must be done one way: say the one of the six pockets you’re sending it to and ensure that’s the very pocket it gets into. To say the least, you’re bound by your words. Anything other than that means loss of the game – to your opponent. In snooker as in life, your word is your bond; when you say you will do something, do it!

7. External forces conspire for or against one’s favour: To start with, the balls are driven by the “cue.” You just get to wish the cue does your bidding or be sanctioned. You want it to pot a “strip” and it instead ends the game by potting the “black.” You want it to simply pot the black, and it pots it and goes in with it – loss of game! There is also the “cushion” that helps to bounce the ball around the field of play; it could make or mar your game. Mind you, it’s nothing personal as some days are just like that.

It made sense playing snooker again. I guess I should do it more often.

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