Where should the index finger be with a closed or loop bridge?
Many bridge variations are shown in the following video:
You guys did miss presentation of the most popular closed bridge, which is the Filipino-style, index-finger-pressing-down-upon-middle-finger closed bridge, with the thumb pressing against the side of the middle finger (it’s basically “along for the ride” — most of the clamping work is done by the index finger upon the middle finger). You’ll notice most of the pros have now adopted this style closed bridge, with the “pure loop” style closed bridge (as taught in Mosconi’s little red book) being quite rarely seen in pros these days.
Another closed bridge that is extremely stable is the Willie Hoppe style closed bridge, as shown here:
(This link will jump you into the section where Willie demonstrates his closed loop bridge.)
I don’t agree with Willie’s stroke style (i.e. from the shoulder as shown in the video), but I’ve found his closed bridge to be extremely stable and rock steady. The only change I make, is not to let the flesh of my fingers “drag” on the shaft like he shows in the video. A little corn starch applied in there on the contacts points where the cue contacts my fingers fixes that nicely.
Another closed bridge that seems to work well — albeit it would make you think it’s completely against what’s traditionally taught — is the closed bridge that Earl Strickland uses. Basically, it’s a traditional closed loop bridge (like taught in Mosconi’s little red book), but Earl hooks his index finger on the OUTSIDE of his thumb, not on top of or on the inside of the thumb. Earl basically uses the top surface of his thumb as a “channel” to ride the cue shaft on top of; the middle finger provides the “left wall” and the index finger provides the “right wall” to guide the cue and keep it on track.
I also agree with the synopsis about a variation of the open bridge where the thumb, instead of sticking up in the air at a 45° angle (of course clamped against the index finger), the thumb is instead folded over onto the index finger. The cue travels between the knuckle of the index finger and the knuckle of the thumb, keeping the skin taught and preventing the flesh from moving to and fro. This gives added stability. Shane VanBoening uses this variation of the open bridge all the time, as do most Filipino pros.
The overlapping index finger closed bridge [with the index finger wrapping around the cue and firmly pressing on top of the middle finger] is extremely stable, since one of the legs of the tripod (the ring finger) is the foundation that the cue rests on, with the index finger keeping the cue down on top of it. It’s basically a self-locking bridge. (This is as opposed to the traditional closed loop bridge, which consists of a “two-piece” construction — the three-finger tripod / heel of the hand foundation is one piece, and the index finger loop / thumb is another piece; the player has to make sure that both “pieces” are pressed/locked together to keep it stable.) The overlapping index finger bridge also forms a “V”-bridge internally, albeit this “V”-bridge is laying on its side, with the open aperture of the “V” facing the player. The traditional looped index finger closed bridge tends to more or less form a circular orifice, or else a “shelf” (on the thumb) that the cue rests on.
The only caveat with the overlapping index finger closed bridge is that it almost “requires” a shaft with a pro taper. A standard slope-tapered shaft will “jam” inside the aperture created by the index finger on top of the ring finger, unless the player compensates by slightly releasing the pressure [applied by the index finger on top of the ring finger] in direct correlation with the increasing diameter of the shaft as it passes through that aperture.