I am…G. Chandran Nair

G. Chandran Nair, billiard marker   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Occupation: Billiard marker

Let me turn the lights on in the billiards hall; we use low lighting because the focus has to be on the pool table at all times; that’s’ where all the action happens. That’s also why the lighting in the room is concentrated over the pool table. As you can see the lighting is movable from one end of the table to another. The protective cover of the pool table can be taken off only once play begins for the evening, as the green felt on the table has to be covered up to prevent dust build-up/damage. Let’s take a seat on one of the viewing chairs along the sides of the room and I’ll tell you about myself.

I started working as a billiard marker when I was 19 years old. At that time I didn’t even know what billiards was! It so happened that a neighbour of mine, Kesavankutty, who used to work in University College, asked me if I wanted a job at Sree Moolam Club (SMC). At that time I had completed my studies and was hunting for a job. He asked me to go meet geology professor K.P. Ramachandran Nair, who was the then president of the club. He took a liking to me and I got the job. That was in 1977. I learnt everything about cue sports on the job and was taught to play by some stellar billiards players of the time such as N. Krishnamoorthy (actor Nandu Lal’s father), S.K. Appan and so on, who would challenge me to a game every evening. Now, I’m 57 years old and have become an expert. My job entails partnering players for a game, refereeing matches and training new players in billiards (a three-ball game), snooker (a 22 ball-game) and fleece (an eight-ball game), which are the main pool games that are popular among players in the city. I have trained many champions and have won many trophies myself and for the club.

Billiards is not an easy game to master. It’s more of a game of mental skill than physical skill. It’s like chess where you have to think a few steps in advance. Here, once you place the cue on the pool table, you have to calculate in advance the strike position, where the ball will go, how far it will go, etc. The more you are able to think ahead, the more victorious in the game you will be. Teaching the game is also not easy. All lessons begin with fundamentals like how to grip a cue stick, your stance at the table and different kind of strokes, progressing on to aiming and shot making and so on and so forth. That in itself usually takes about three months to master before the trainees can actually strike and pocket a ball. Your game improves with practice. The more you practice, the more skilled you become. The more skilled players you play against the quicker you learn to catch up and the quicker your game improves.

My working hours at SMC are from 5.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. so I also work as a Life Insurance Agent during the day to supplement my income. I live in Chitra Nagar, Pangode with my wife, Ambika Kumari S. and daughters, Anjana, a commerce graduate, and Archana and Akhina, twins and plus two students. My daughters don’t know how to play billiards; they’ve never expressed interest in it, nor have I brought them here to learn. Actually, in all my years as a billiard marker, very few women have come to play or learn cue sports. Maybe it’s because cue sports is very much a male dominated game in the city and men have staked their territory on many of the billiards halls in the city.

(A weekly column on the men and women who make Thiruvananthapuram what it is)

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 10:04:01 AM |

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