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... the effects chalk brand has on the outcome of shots

Dr. Dave's answers to frequently-asked questions (FAQs), mostly from the AZB discussion forum

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comparison of different brands

Does the brand of chalk really make that much difference?

The short answer is: No. Here's the long answer:

For more information, see: "Does the Brand of Chalk Really Matter?," (BD, July, 2015).

Here are the bottom line conclusions from the experiments: The brand of chalk doesn’t really matter much, unless you don’t chalk often or well enough, in which case chalks like Kamui, Blue Diamond, and Magic Chalk (see below) might help; although, chalks like this that persist on the CB can result in more frequent cling/skid/kick. Remember, chalk before each shot, and keep the CB as clean as possible. Definitely wipe the CB off any time you get ball in hand, and before every game before breaking.

All of the brands I have tested to date now include: Master, Master pre-flag, Lava, Blue Diamond, Kamui (0.98), Silver Cup, Magic Chalk, Predator, Great White (mako blue), and OB. The results for the chalks not covered in the video and article above can be found in the follow-up quotes below.

The procedures I demonstrate in the video above can be used by anyone to easily do their own comparisons so they can judge for themselves. With enough trials and care, good and consistent results can be obtained with a human shooter (i.e., a robot is not required). Again, people can judge for themselves. I still stand by my main conclusion:

If you chalk properly before each shot, and clean the CB often, it doesn't seem to matter which brand of chalk you use.

They are all equally effective when the chalk is applied properly before a shot. I have not been able to measure a difference in performance among any of the chalks tested when the tip is chalked before a shot.

Concerning the miscue limit test, some people have questioned the validity of such a test. This test is actually the easiest to get good and consistent results. If you attempt to hit the CB close to the miscue limit a large number of times, some of the hits will be good (and create near maximum sidespin) and some of the hits will miscue (since you are pushing the limit). The only results that matter are: What was the furthest from center (and the most sidespin) you were able to get on any of the good hits with each of the chalks being compared? Again, if you do a large number of trials with each chalk, the best hit from each will provide a good comparison.

 

follow-up for additional Magic Chalk and Silver Cup chalk tests:

The only experiments I did with these two chalks were the "number of hits before miscue" test and the "maximum-spin miscue limit" test.

Concerning miscue limit, both chalks had very similar results as compared to all of the other chalks tested. I could not detect or measure any difference among any of the chalks concerning the maximum-spin miscue limit (although, the Silver Cup miscue limit didn't seem to be quite as far out as the others, but it was very close).

Concerning the "number of hits until miscue," Silver Cup was very similar to Master (flag and pre-flag) and Lava. However, the Magic Chalk was off the charts!!! That stuff really remains effective on the tip for a long time! Here's a summary of all of the data in this category:

chalk: average number of shots before miscue
Master: 8
pre-flag: 8
Lava: 9
Blue Diamond: 11
Kamui: 15
Silver Cup: 7
Magic Chalk: 29!!!

Again, if you chalk before every shot, this doesn't make much of a difference. However, if you forget to chalk, or don't like to chalk often, or don't chalk effectively, and if you miscue often, then Magic Chalk could make a big difference in your game (assuming the miscuing is not a result of poor or inconsistent technique, which is often the case).

Honestly, I was shocked by how many off-center-hit shots I could hit without miscuing using the Magic Chalk. The other companies need to figure out what they are doing and do their best to copy (or improve upon) it!

 

follow-up for additional testing for persistence of Magic Chalk on CB:

The Magic Chalk looks and feels a lot more like Master than Kamui. If anything, it feels and sounds even more abrasive than Master when applying it to the tip.

If I had to guess, I would think Magic Chalk contains larger (and/or stronger and sharper) abrasive particles than the others. Maybe that's why it keeps its effectiveness so long on the tip. Maybe the bigger/stronger/sharper particles stay embedded in the tip surface longer before falling out or breaking. However, this is all conjecture on my part.

Concerning the test involving how long chalk marks persist on the CB, Magic Chalk is more similar to Master (flag and pre-flag) and Lava than it is to Blue Diamond or Kamui. Here's a summary of the data:

chalk: chalk marks retained out of 6 (clear, faint, very faint)
Master: 2, 1, 2
pre-flag: 2, 2, 1
Lava: 2, 1, 1
Blue Diamond: 5, 1, 0
Kamui: 5, 0, 1
Magic Chalk: 2, 2, 2

It is the "clear" chalk marks that are at most risk of causing cling/skid/kick.

 

follow-up with additional set of tests:

I just did another set of tests to see if things change much from one day to the next, and with slightly different conditions (today was much drier than on the day of the previous tests) and procedures (with cleaning chalk marks, and with how much chalk was applied). I did two sets of tests with each chalk and averaged the results. The results are listed in the order the tests were performed. Again, I was careful to completely remove the chalk and scuff the tip between each set of tests. Here's what I got:

With vigorously rubbing (with my finger and finger nail) and wiping (with cloth) the chalk marks off the CB after each shot (NOTE - With the first set of tests summarized above, I was just wiping the marks off after each shot):

chalk: number of shots before miscue
Magic Chalk: 21, 17 - avg: 19
Kamui: 17, 15 - avg: 16
Master: 13, 10 - avg: 11.5
Silver Cup: 9, 10 avg: 9.5

Then I tried another set of tests with the Magic Chalk, applying more chalk than normal to the tip, and then only wiping (and not vigorously rubbing) the chalk mark of the CB after each shot. This time, I got:

chalk: number of shots before miscue
Magic Chalk: 25, 29 - avg: 27

I would have liked to have tested all of the chalks under various conditions, but I have already put in far too much time into the project.

These new results taught me several things:

- How the CB is cleaned between each shot seems to make a difference

- Hitting the CB in the same place every time (and not cleaning thoroughly) might result in some chalk particles being retained on the CB in addition to on the tip.

- Results might vary with the amount of chalk first applied to the tip.

- Robot tests results would be useful, where as many variables as possible could be eliminated. But tip preparation, chalking, and ball cleaning would still need to be done very carefully and consistently.

Regardless, I think the main conclusions in the video are still accurate.

To me, here's the bottom line: If you chalk before every shot, the type of chalk doesn't seem to make much difference. However, if you forget to chalk, or don't like to chalk often, or don't chalk effectively, and if you miscue often, then you might prefer one of the chalks that remains effective on the tip longer. Magic Chalk still seems to be the best in this category (with Kamui 2nd best, and Blue Diamond also good).

 

another follow-up with more chalk brands:

I just did another set of tests with some additional chalks, again being careful to clean and scuff the tip between each set of tests, and vigorously rubbing and wiping the CB surface in between each shot. I also used a much slower speed on the shots (to help with tip-contact-point accuracy and consistency). Here's what I got:

chalk: number of shots before miscue
Magic Chalk: 15, 16 - avg: 15.5
Predator: 9, 7 - avg: 8
Great White: 12, 10 - avg: 11
Master: 9, 10 avg: 9.5

Great White chalk goes on the tip with the "lipstick" feel and look of Kamui.

Magic Chalk has surpassed all other chalks in all of the tests concerning how long the chalk remains effective on the tip. So if you don't chalk properly or well between shots or games, Magic Chalk might offer an advantage over other brands.

However, the bottom-line conclusion from all of my testing still applies:

If you chalk before every shot, it doesn't seem to matter which chalk you use. They are all equally effective when the chalk is applied properly before a shot. I have not been able to measure a difference in performance among any of the chalks when the tip is chalked before a shot.

 

another follow-up with OB chalk:

I just did another set of tests comparing Magic Chalk to the new OB chalk, again being careful to clean and scuff the tip between each set of tests, and vigorously rubbing and wiping the CB surface in between each shot, and using a consistent medium speed on every shot with the cue in the same orientation. Here's what I got:

chalk: number of shots before miscue
Magic Chalk: 18, 16 - avg: 17
OB: 15, 13 - avg: 14

OB chalk seemed a little harder and more abrasive than other chalks I've tested. Therefore, it might last a little longer and help keep the tip surface scuffed (but it could also wear down the tip faster).

Magic Chalk has surpassed all other chalks concerning how long the chalk remains effective on the tip (after multiple shots without chalking); however, OB also performed fairly well in this category (not as good as Magic Chalk, but better than other chalks tested).

 

from BRussell (in AZB post):

I do think it's important to mention that you found a downside to the stickier chalk: That it stays on the cue ball longer (thus perhaps increasing the chance of a skid), and also that it throws more, so if you're unlucky enough that the CB-OB contact point is right on a chalk mark, you're likely to get a worse reaction.

from dr_dave (in response to BRussell):

Excellent point. I agree 100%. An increased risk of cling/skid/kick is a major issue, especially for a top player.

Based on all of the results, I would say the best chalk tested is the Magic Chalk. It doesn't seem to be as "sticky" as Kamui and Blue Diamond, and it has the best persistence with infrequent or inadequate chalking.

 

from Bob Jewett (in AZB post):

I think it is useful to note that the importance of not miscuing depends on your level of play. For the vast majority of players, miscuing one shot out of 200 is no big deal. For a top player that same miscue rate might double the rate of mistakes and misses. A similar situation holds for skids. If you are 80% to pocket the typical shot, one skid in 200 shots is lost in the large randomness of the direction you send the object ball. (I think many players don't even notice when a skid occurs.) For someone who might miss one shot per hour when they are playing well, skids are fearsome things.

 

pre-flag vs. flag Master chalk

Is pre-flag Master chalk any different from flag Master chalk?

No! It is the same chalk with a different label!

 

from Skip Nemecek (President of Tweeten Fibre Co., maker of Master Chalk):

To give you the background, (wow I wish I had a nickel for every time I had to write this) … following 9/11, I wanted to do something to show our support and patriotism as being an American company. I decided to put the American flag on every piece of chalk that goes all over the world. That was it. Nothing more then being a proud American company.

Someone decided to create the story that we changed something when the flag came on. Not sure why or how this rumor was started and there is certainly absolutely zero evidence to support that rubbish but nonetheless that’s what some started to say. The fact is we make two version of our Master label (which by the way is just a label and has nothing to do with the chalk other then cover it) and always have. One has the American flag on it and the other is the traditional Master label that hasn't changed (except maybe the zip code) in forever. So even today, contrary to what some believe, we still make Master chalk with and without an American flag on the label.

 


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