While watching old snooker matches, like the famous Higgins vs White match in 1982, I notice that the breaks seem to be like straight pool breaks, with just the corner balls moving. Ideally, the two corner balls go to the rail and return to their place in the pack. A typical safe break in straight pool is show in this video at about 1:45.

In modern snooker, however, break shots seem to cause a lot more activity. Is that because the balls are racked loose to prevent perfect breaks, or is it the modern style to allow more balls to come out as an "aggressive safety", or some other reason?

1 Answer 1


I did some additional research and found out why this is.

The first reason is that in snooker a player breaks from the D-zone only and this makes it harder to cut the corner balls flat to the rail. In straight pool a player can break from anywhere behind the head string so getting a tangent on a corner ball is a lot easier.

The other reason, which is the main one, is that if a snooker player breaks thin on a corner ball, then there is a significant risk of a two cushion carom into the yellow or green (depending which side they are breaking from). If this happens, it leaves a much better placement for the opponent than if the cue ball reaches the baulk cushion. This is the main reason snooker players do not cut thin on the break.

The reason why thin cuts on the break are often seen in older snooker matches, is that in former times the players did not realize that from a strategic point of view it is more important to avoid a collision with a color than to minimize motion of the reds.

  • 1
    This sounds plausible, but are you able to link to the sources you used to find this out?
    – Philip Kendall
    Jan 20, 2019 at 18:50
  • Interesting question and answer, can you add citations? or links to old snooker videos? Also, snooker tables are longer, and the surface material is different.
    – smci
    Feb 25, 2019 at 2:06

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