Even Stephen Hawking couldn't solve snooker's biggest mystery: what causes kicks?

Even Stephen Hawking couldn't solve snooker's biggest mystery: what causes kicks?

10/03/2015 at 17:18Updated

Ronnie is not playing at this week's Indian Open in Mumbai after a fortnight of competition at the Welsh Open in Cardiff and the Shoot-Out in Blackpool. In writing his latest blog, the five-times world champion shares his views on the mystery of kicks.

He also tells Eurosport's Desmond Kane why he wasn't surprised to see John Higgins win a major trophy after a three-year drought, and why he is so impressed with the standard of Belgian youngster Luca Brecel, a figure he compares in style to darts world champion Michael van Gerwen.

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The mystery of kicks has always fascinated me. Kicks, and unpredictable bounces off cushions. Why do we get them? What causes them? Why do we get more at certain times of the day? There is no clear answer. As snooker players, we've all had them at some point.

I think it would take someone with the brilliance of Professor Stephen Hawking to work out what causes kicks. And even he might not have the solution.

My main feeling is it is to do with the venue we are playing in. And also the atmosphere at a certain venue.

If a venue has got the right acoustics then you won't get kicks and bounces to the degree we have seen at some venues I've been at recently. Don't get me wrong, you will still get them at the best venues in the world, but nowhere near as much.

Having the four table set-up as we had at the Welsh Open in Cardiff, and no crowds down the sides of the tables changes the atmosphere dramatically. So I do think this also has an effect.

For example, take York which hosted the UK Championship before Christmas. The tables in the early rounds have never played so badly.

They were unplayable. After one or two matches on those tables, your confidence starts to go. You lose trust in what the tables are going to do.

This affects your game. Once York went down to two tables the tables played so much better, and I was fortunate enough to win the tournament.

Then at the Champions Cup event in Coventry, the one-table set up was terrific - we couldn't haven't asked for better conditions.

The same goes for the Masters at Alexandra Palace, which Shaun Murphy won. The one-table set-up was great again.

Is this a coincedence? I don't think so. I really do think it is the atmosphere that creates bad kicks and bounces.

Ronnie describes the Tempodrom in Berlin as his favourite venue in the sport.

In Germany, we had a great venue and great acoustics. The Tempodrom in Berlin really is the perfect snooker venue.

I didn't have one bad bounce or many kicks I can remember. Yes, there were five tables, but the way it was set up ensured the crowds surrounded all the tables.

The atmosphere in that place is incredible. Hence I believe it creates perfect playing conditions for us.

TV LIGHTING ALSO PLAYS A MAJOR PART IN KICKS

At qualifying in Barnsley, the tables in general play consistently well. They might be slow or quick, but they don't have inconsistent bounces. Or many kicks.

That is because you don't have the TV lighting affecting qualifying matches. The TV lighting is also playing its part in kicks and bounces.

I believe if you put TV lighting in Barnsley, you would get bounces and kicks all over the place.

It would probably be worth trying that out to see what effect this has.

I would bet my last penny that the practice tables at the UK in York which were used as match tables in the early rounds played perfectly well.

I'd like to see what the players who played on them have to say on the playing conditions on those tables. Yes, there are four tables in a line, and no crowds down the side, but they didn't have the proper TV lighting. I believe those tables would have played perfectly well.

I'd love to know or even play a match on them to find out what the difference is.

All this polishing balls and stuff after getting a kick - I'm not convinced that's the right way to go. Or makes much difference.

Ronnie feels John Higgins was back to his best in winning the Welsh Open in Cardiff.

JOHN HIGGINS' SUCCESS IN WALES WAS NO SURPRISE

The shoot-out at Blackpool is always a great event for the fans, but you need to get lucky to have a run at that tournament. I lost to Tom Ford in my second match, and didn't pot a ball. My most recent ranking tournament was the Welsh Open.

I lost to Matthew Stevens 4-3 in the third round in Cardiff, but I was pleased to see John Higgins pick up the trophy.

Ronnie tipped John Higgins to clinch a title back in January.

It is not good for me and the rest of the snooker players, but is good for the punters who want to watch the very best level of snooker being played. Some of John's play during the Welsh Open was as good as it gets: great technique, great potting, good safety, solid break building and a great rhythm around the table.

He is one of those players I just love to watch. He hits the ball so well, and there is absolutely no movement on the shot. He really does it better than anyone in the game has over the past 20 years or so.

Ronnie is backing Belgium's Luca Brecel to have a big future in the game if he stays focused on improving.

LUCA BRECEL CAN HAVE A GOLDEN FUTURE

I also want to mention young Luca Brecel. I don't want to put too much pressure on this guy as I would love to see him reach his true potential. He is such a talent, and has a great snooker brain. He has a relaxed touch around the balls, and is only going to get better if he dedicates himself to his snooker.

I watched his game against Mark Selby in Cardiff when he won 4-3. I didn't think he would beat Mark on the tactical side of the exchanges. I thought Selby would outfox him. But credit to Luca, he got stuck in and grabbed the match when the chance came along - like all great players do.

I was so impressed with that performance. Only a strong Higgins in the last four halted him.

Even more impressive was that Mark is the world champion, and was coming off winning the German Masters, so even more credit goes to Luca.

Brecel reminds me a bit of the darts player Michael van Gerwen. He struts around with that confidence Van Gerwen has. All great players have it. He looks like he belongs out there. There is nothing better then to watch a player play with that type of confidence.

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