Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know

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Overview

A comprehensive shot-by-shot instructional guide from billiards expert Robert Byrne

Ranging from tickys and double-kisses to jump shots and diamond systems, Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots takes players on an accelerated trip from pool kindergarten to graduate school. Players of every skill level will find ways to improve their game and get ahead of their opponents with 350 of Byrne's clever and intricately diagrammed moves—many of which are outlined here for the first time ...

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Overview

A comprehensive shot-by-shot instructional guide from billiards expert Robert Byrne

Ranging from tickys and double-kisses to jump shots and diamond systems, Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots takes players on an accelerated trip from pool kindergarten to graduate school. Players of every skill level will find ways to improve their game and get ahead of their opponents with 350 of Byrne's clever and intricately diagrammed moves—many of which are outlined here for the first time by one of the game's most masterful players and teachers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR BYRNE'S NEW STANDARD BOOK OF POOL AND BILLIARDS
"The best book ever written on both pool and billiards."—Michael Shamos, curator, the Billiard Archive

"Byrne is to billiards what Shakespeare is to theater."—Jerry Karsh, president, U.S. Billiards Association

Tom 'Dr. Cue' Rossman
"Just when I thought Robert Byrne's best was already available, this book proved me wrong. Takes the art of pool to another level with charm and wit...a masterpiece!"
Author and Curator of the Billiard Archive - Michael Shamos
"It's simple—without this book you'll start losing to people who have it. No matter how much you think you know about pool, you don't know this much."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156027212
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/6/2003
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 326,373
  • Product dimensions: 6.96 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Byrne has won numerous tournaments including the National Senior and National Amateur tournaments in three-cushion billiards. Named "best billiard writer" by Billiards Digest , his books and videos on pool have sold nearly a million copies. Inducted into the Billiard Congress of America's Hall of Fame in 2000, he lives in Dubuque, Iowa.

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Read an Excerpt

BASICS 1

While this book is aimed mainly at players who can already handle a cue fairly well, there is always the possibility that it will fall into the hands of a beginner. For that reason, I will start with a brief review of fundamentals. Newcomers to the game should take a lesson or two from a qualified instructor and read one or more of the many fine instructional books now available, some of which I wrote myself. Getting past the beginner stage is impossible unless you know how to stand, hold the cue, stroke, and aim, and there's more to those seemingly simple acts than you might think.

If you are unfamiliar with pool instructional materials and have never studied the game before, a good place to start is with Byrne's New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards, which covers fundamentals in much more detail than you will find here and which continues to advanced concepts. If you'd rather watch than read, try Byrne's Standard Video of Pool, Volume I and Volume II. Both are available at billiard supply stores. Short descriptions of these and other books and tapes can be found on my Web site at byrne.org.

Getting Started Right

An important tip The most important tip is the one at the end of your cue. If it flattens out or mushrooms, trim it with a razor blade and sand it off so it is flush with the sides of the ferrule (the plastic collar onto which the tip is glued). Be very careful not to scratch or sand the ferrule or the wood of the shaft.

Hold it Hold the cue as level as possible unless you are deliberately trying to make the cueball curve or jump. When the tip is halfway from the cueball to your bridge hand during your warm-up strokes, your right forearm (assuming you are right-handed) should be aimed straight down at the floor. Hold the cue firmly but not tightly.

Chalk up Applying chalk to the tip before every shot is not too often, but it's not necessary to chalk up so frequently when hitting the cueball in the center. If the tip won't hold chalk, rough it up with a piece of sandpaper or one of the many scuffers designed for the job. Don't spin the cue into the chalk; instead, rock the chalk back and forth on the tip or brush the flat surface of the chalk across the tip.

Crouch Some top players bend down so low when aiming that their chins touch the cue. Most have their chins no more than a foot above the cue. If you are having trouble pocketing balls, it may be that you aren't bending over far enough to aim the cue like a rifle.

Aim Really aim, don't just go through the motions. One way is to imagine where the cueball must be at the moment of contact with the object ball, then aim through the center of the imagined cueball. Another way is to keep refining your aim until the hit looks right, neither too thick nor too thin. Fans of geometry and precision might like the method explained in Diagram 1.

1 The geometry of aiming

If you have trouble aiming cut shots, resorting to geometry might help. Find point Y on the object ball directly opposite the target, A. Imagine The line BYA. Imagine line DXC, parallel to the first line, passing through the center of the cueball. X is the point where the line intersects the left edge of the cueball. To make the shot, point X on the cueball must hit point Y on the object ball. Aim the cueball along a line parallel to line XY.

On every shot that's not straight in, an allowance for throw must be made. "Throw" is the term used to describe how a shot is thrown slightly off line by the frictional forces during the collision. For more, see Section 5.

Follow straight through The tip is only in contact with the cueball for one millisecond. What you do with your cue after that can't affect the cueball, but you should develop the habit of following straight through. If your cue normally rises after contact or swerves toward the side of the English, then you will have a harder time hitting the cueball exactly where you want to and will miscue more often than you should. To develop a straight stroke, try picking a spot on the cloth six inches or so beyond the end of the cue and making the cue tip stop directly on it or above it after hitting the cueball.

Stay down During your warm-up strokes and when hitting the cueball, don't bob your head or move anything except your forearm. Let the cue follow straight through, then freeze until the cueball is well on its way. Extraneous body movement during the stroke makes precision pool impossible. Your elbow should remain frozen in space until the end of the follow-through.

Watch your eyes When aiming, your eyes will move back and forth a few times between the cueball and the object ball. Almost all top players have their eyes on the object ball-or a point of aim on a cushion-when they pull the trigger. An exception might be on a very easy shot where the critical factor is the amount of spin on the cueball; then you might focus on the cueball to make sure you hit it where you want to.

Beware of English A majority of shots can be made without any spin (English) on the cueball. Four problems arise when hitting the cueball off-center left or right. One is "squirt," which causes the cueball to travel slightly off line in a direction opposite the English. Another is that a cueball with sidespin will throw the object ball off line because of the friction between the balls during contact. The third is that unless the cue is exactly level, the cueball's path will curve on its way to the target. Finally, using more than a little sidespin increases the chances of a miscue. On the other hand, English is essential on some shots in order to get a good shot at the next ball.

Sidespin has little effect on the angle the cueball takes off the object ball, but it can greatly change the angle of rebound off a rail. What affects the angle the cueball takes off the object ball are backspin (draw) and topspin (follow).

Follow and Draw

Follow and draw are essential elements in cueball control. Both depend on hitting the cueball above or below center on the vertical axis, although sidespin can be applied as well. You'll learn the technique faster if you understand a bit of the underlying physics.

Follow If a cueball rolling naturally down the table strikes an object ball full in the face, the cueball will stop dead in its tracks for an instant, then its continuing rotation, which is reduced but not eliminated by the impact, will cause the cueball to move forward, "following" the object ball.

When the cue tip strikes the cueball halfway from the center to the top (to be precise, 70 percent of the diameter up from the bottom) on the vertical axis, the cueball will start with natural roll immediately. Natural roll means that there is no slippage between the ball and the cloth. While it is possible to hit the cueball slightly higher than 70 percent of its diameter without miscuing, it is impossible to demonstrate in practice that doing so will create extra topspin. In other words, for practical purposes it is impossible to strike a cueball so high that it begins its movement with more rotation than natural roll. The distance the cueball rolls after it hits an object ball, then, (provided the 70 percent point is where the tip hit the cueball) depends only on how hard the cueball is struck.

Scientist and pool buff George Onoda noticed an interesting fact about striped pool balls: ordinarily the width of the stripe is exactly half the diameter. (Do note, however, that some balls on the market today have wider stripes.) This permits an easy method of learning how to apply maximum spin. Use a striped ball as a cueball. Orient the stripe so that it is exactly horizontal. The upper edge of the stripe is exactly halfway from the center of the ball to the top. Clean the ball, chalk your cue, and practice hitting the top edge of the stripe. After each try, examine the ball and see if the chalk mark left by the tip is on the edge of the stripe.

There are several training cueballs on the market now that make it easy to practice maximum spin shots. The one made by Elephant Balls has a red dot surrounded by a red circle with a diameter equal to half the width of the ball. Position the red dot so that it is on the equator of the ball (halfway from the cloth to the top of the ball); the red circle marks the maximum spin striking point for follow, draw, and English. Keep in mind that hitting the cueball that far off center increases the danger of miscuing (see Diagram 81).

Forward curves What happens when you use maximum follow on a cut shot? The cueball caroms off the ball along a path at right angles to the object ball's path, then bends forward in a parabolic curve. The sharpness of the curve depends on the fullness of the hit and the speed of the ball. You can see examples of these paths diagrammed in Byrne's New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards (1998), page 55, or traced in slow motion on Byrne's Standard Video of Pool, Volume II.

Much of the artistry of the game depends on the ability to judge the cueball's curving path on follow and draw shots, both for maximum and less-than-maximum off-center hits. For examples, see Sections 7 and 8.

Draw If you have absorbed the foregoing, it will come as no surprise that maximum draw, or backspin, results from a hit that is halfway from the center of the cueball to its resting point on the cloth. Trying to hit lower than that greatly increases the chance of a miscue. If the bottom edge of the cue tip hits the cloth first, for example, a miscue is almost a certainty. The best way to find out what a maximum low hit looks and feels like is to use a striped ball as the cueball with the stripe horizontal. During your warm-up strokes, try to direct the upper edge of the tip toward the low edge of the stripe, and after hitting the cueball, retrieve it and see where the chalk smudge is.

To further reduce your chances of miscuing on maximum draw shots make sure that your tip is properly shaped and groomed and is well chalked; your bridge should be snug and hold your cue close to level. Players who have trouble getting lively draw action almost always aren't hitting the cueball low enough (see Section 8, Diagram 101). Another frequent flaw that prevents lively draw action is not hitting the cueball hard enough when the cueball is more than a couple of feet away. Beginners should practice short straight-in shots with the cueball only six or eight inches from the object ball. At that distance, it is easy to learn how to make the cueball draw back several feet without hitting it hard.

Stop On straight-in shots, a cueball that slides into the object ball with neither topspin nor backspin will stop dead. It takes practice and a certain touch to shoot stop shots at all distances. On long, straight shots, considerable backspin must be applied, otherwise the friction of the cloth will reduce the backspin to zero and allow the cueball to begin rolling before it reaches the object ball. Some players consider the stop shot the most important shot in pool.

Sidespin

Sidespin, or English, has little effect on the angle the cueball takes off the ball it hits. That angle is influenced by topspin and backspin. What sidespin mainly does is change the way the cueball bounces off a rail. Being able to judge the altered rebound angle accurately is essential for position play.

Because of squirt, throw, and swerve, it is much harder to pocket a ball when English is used than with a centerball hit. Top players, however, have an uncanny ability to accommodate and exploit these three variables.

Players differ in their estimates of how often cueball spin must be used, but it is probably less than 20 percent of the time. For the great majority of shots in pool, the cueball can be controlled adequately by using centerball hits and varying the speed or "cheating the pocket" (driving the object ball into one part of the pocket or another).

Rebounds One way to learn how to judge the effect of sidespin on cushion rebound angles is to practice with a cueball only. For example, shoot the cueball down the centerline of the table and by using various amounts of sidespin try to make it bank into any desired point on the side rails, which can be marked with coins or balls. Drills like this get boring fast, so it's best to do them as competitive games with a friend.

English throw It's not quite accurate to say that the cueball should hit the object ball at a point directly opposite the pocket. That's correct advice if throw is ignored. "Throw" is the term used to describe the way the cueball can push an object ball off line because of the friction between the balls at the moment of impact. Right English throws the object ball slightly to the left, and you must allow for it. The reason is that the leading edge of the cueball is moving to the left, and when that moving surface hits the object ball, it grabs and throws it off line to the left. The same explanation applies to the way a frozen two-ball combination is thrown off line if the first ball is hit on the side.

Cut-shot throw Throw occurs on cut shots, but it is difficult to see. If you are cutting an object ball to the left, left-hand sidespin will require a slightly thinner hit than you would need if no sidespin were used. Right-hand spin will throw the object ball to the left, so a slightly thicker hit is required. Throw occurs on cut shots even if no English is used because the surface of the cueball rubs against the object ball, creating a frictional force. No throw occurs if the spin on the cueball is such that it rolls off the object ball instead of rubbing against it. For a full discussion of cut-shot throw complete with diagrams, see Byrne's Advanced Technique (1990), pages 23-27. The throw effect in general is covered in detail in Byrne's New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards (1998), pages 83-102.

To see how much harder it is to make a shot when sidespin is used, set up a long diagonal straight-in shot with the object ball in the center of the table and the cueball four feet away. Try to make it with heavy left or right English. If you can make a long, straight shot half the time with no English, you'll be lucky to make it one time in five with English.

Squirt Another factor that makes English dangerous is deflection, now usually called "squirt." As mentioned already, when you hit a cueball right or left of center, it won't travel in a direction exactly parallel to the cue; it will diverge slightly in a direction opposite of the English. Cues that have small diameter tips (between 11 and 12 millimeters) cause less squirt than fatter ones (between 12 and 13 millimeters) because there is less weight near the end of the shaft to push the cueball off line. Most good players unconsciously adjust for the squirt when using English and many aren't aware that there is such a phenomenon. One cuemaker, Predator, reduces squirt by drilling a small hole down the axis of the shaft at the tip end to reduce the weight. Front end weight can also be reduced by making the ferrule shorter (Schuler) or thinner (Meucci).

Swerve A third factor that makes it harder to pocket balls when English is used is swerve. Unless the cue is exactly level, English will make the cueball's path bend slightly. The more you elevate the back of the cue, the more the cueball will curve, or swerve. Because the cue is elevated at least slightly on the great majority of shots, swerve must be considered when English is applied. There are, of course, situations when swerve (technically massé) is needed to bend the cueball around an interfering ball.

Conclusion Use just enough sidespin to get the job done. A quarter inch off center is usually plenty.

Copyright © 2003 by Robert Byrne

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida
32887-6777.

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Table of Contents

Contents
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction xvii
1 Basics
Getting Started Right 2
o The geometry of aiming 3
1 Follow and Draw 5
Sidespin 7
Safety Play 8
2 Cheating the pocket 11
3 Accuracy versus slop 12
4 Speed control-I 13
5 Speed control-II 14
6 Getting an angle 15

2 Fouls
7 Push-shot fouls 19
8 More push-shot fouls 20
9 Still more push-shot fouls 21
10 Shafted and fouled 22
11 A double-hit foul 23
12 Fair push shots 24
13 Two massé shots 25
14 How to spot a double hit 26
15 Two deceptive double-hit fouls 27
16 The grip-hand stop 28
17 Fair and foul-I 29
18 Fair and foul-II 30
19 The cut-shot foul 31
20 Avoiding a scratch-I 32
21 Avoiding a scratch-II 33
22 Foul to score 34
23 The impossible cut 35
24 Two optical illusion fouls 36
25 The lift-brush foul 37

3 Caroms
26 Solving and creating problems 41
27 Cluster busting 42
28 More cluster busting 43
29 A game winner 44
30 The distance factor 45
31 Two safety plays 46
32 Rail-first caroms 47
33 The tangent line 48
34 The three-ball carom 49
35 Push-throughs 50
36 The pull-back carom 51
37 Pull-back limits 52

4 Billiards
38 The kitchen carom 55
39 Billiard cluster-buster 56
40 Another billiard cluster-buster 57
41 Rail first to control the first ball 58
42 Rail first to control the cueball 59
43 The thick or thin choice 60
44 One rail to score 61
45 Cross-table shots 62
46 Up and down 63
47 Two-rail diagonal 64
48 Second-ball position 65
49 Length of table position 66
50 Side pocket position 67
51 Zigzag 68
52 Three rails in the side 69
53 Standard three-cushion bank 70
54 Long angle, three cushions 71
55 Four rails 72
56 Four rails with draw 73
57 Four-rail breakout 74
58 Another four-railer 75
59 Standard five-railer 76
60 Second-ball position, outside 77
61 Second-ball position, inside 78

5 Throw
62 Frozen cueball basics 81
63 Combination basics 82
64 Four applications 83
65 The roll-off shot 84
66 Cut-shot throw 85
67 Frozen rail combos 86
68 Two crucial shots 87
69 Minimizing drift 88
70 Two throw banks 89
71 Two puzzles 90

6 Sidespin
72 Sidespin limits 93
73 Double the rail 94
74 Doubling the long way 95
75 Doubling for position 96
76 Sidespin effects 97
77 Doubling limits 98
78 The "impossible" position shot 99
79 Inside and outside sidespin 100
80 A rail-shot trick 101

7 Topspin
81 Topspin limit 105
82 Fair and foul follows 106
83 Cheating the pocket 107
84 Speed control 108
85 Second-ball follow 109
86 Third-ball follow 110
87 Frozen surprise 111
88 Clearance follow 112
89 Rail curve 113
90 Phelan's follow 114
91 McCleery's creep 115
92 Cut-shot follow 116
93 Applying the curve 117
94 Heavy follow action 118
95 A treacherous shot 119
96 Thick or thin? 120
97 Small-gap follow 121
98 Massé follow and draw 122
99 Phelan off a ball 123
100 Cross-table dive 124

8 Backspin
101 Backspin limit 127
102 Two for starters 128
103 Three practice draws 129
104 Two more tests 130
105 Stun and draw 131
106 Spot-shot flexibility 132
107 The curve-around draw 133
108 Second-ball draw 134
109 Frozen second-ball draw 135
110 Angled second-ball draw 136
111 The frozen push-through 137
112 Elevated draw 138
113 Frozen rail draw 139
114 Rail draw 140
115 Rail-draw practice shot 141
116 Thin-hit rail draw 142
117 Rail-first cross table 143
118 Rail-first up table 144
119 Rail first to frozen ball 145
120 Small-gap draw 146
121 Extreme small-gap draw 147
122 Jump draw 148
123 Second-ball draw 149
124 Deadball draw 150
125 Deadball safeties 151

9 Stun
126 Stun practice 155
127 Rail-first stop 156
128 Second-ball stop 157
129 More stun practice 158
130 Still more practice 159
131 The right-angle principle 160
132 Tangent-line practice 161
133 Useful applications 162
134 Stun run-through for safety 163
135 Another safety play 164
136 An eighteen-foot safety 165

10 Rail first
137 Rail-first option 169
138 Simple rail firsts 170
139 Rail-first follow 171
140 Rail-first flexibility 172
141 Standard four-rail pattern 173
142 Frozen rail-first 174
143 Two little-known patterns 175
144 Draw and follow 176
145 The basic principle 177
146 The impossible cut 178
147 Rail-first safety 179
148 Two rails first-I 180
149 Two rails first-II 181
150 Another rail-first safety 182
151 A second option 183
152 Rail-first stroke shot 184
153 Rail first to score 185

11 Banks
154 Long and short 189
155 Slide and roll 190
156 The three-balls test 191
157 Transfer of spin-I 192
158 Transfer of spin-II 193
159 Maximum angle 194
160 Ball-induced spin 195
161 Triple banks 196
162 Double and triple 197
163 The long way 198
164 Kick-back strategy 199
165 A stop carom and a double bank 200
166 A moving carom and a kiss bank 201
167 Frozen kick back 202
168 Pocket-point escape 203
169 Time shot 204

12 Side Pockets
170 Scoring and position 207
171 Two kiss-backs 208
172 Around-the-table kiss-back 209
173 Off the points 210
174 Avoiding scratches-I 211
175 Avoiding scratches-II 212
176 Avoiding scratches-III 213
177 Off the point to score 214
178 Two escapes 215
179 A pocket-point kick 216
180 Time shot 217

13 Double kisses
181 Kiss-across subtleties 221
182 Kiss-across safety 222
183 Unfrozen double-kiss safety 223
184 Two-rail diagonal safety 224
185 Another two-rail kiss 225
186 Three cushions to score 226
187 Off the end rail 227
188 Kiss-back paths 228
189 Topspin curves 229
190 The sheepherder shot 230
191 Kiss-across surprise 231
192 Kiss forward 232
193 Diagonal kiss forward 233
194 The Hustler bank 234

14 Tickys
195 The primary pattern 237
196 Variations 238
197 The follow ticky 239
198 Around the table 240
199 Two rails first 241
200 The draw ticky 242
201 Long diagonal draw 243
202 The "impossible" ticky 244

15 Sink-ins
203 An easy one 247
204 An even easier one 248
205 The draw curve 249
206 First trick shot 250
207 Around the table 251
208 Simple safety 252
209 Sink in to score 253
210 The limiting position 254
211 Rail first 255
212 A great escape 256
213 Richie's shot 257

16 Jumps
214 Easy and hard 261
215 Second-ball jump 262
216 Ball-rail jump 263
217 Easier and harder 264
218 The thin-hit jump 265
219 Falling off the ledge 266
220 The point jump and the jump draw 267
221 The frozen spot shot 268
222 Lots of luck 269

17 Pocket points
223 Point the way 273
224 Kiss back off the point 274
225 A challenge shot 275
226 An accidental discovery 276
227 Escaping corner hooks 277
228 Two 2-point shots 278
229 A kiss-back dream bank 279

18 Massés
230 The geometry of massé shots 283
231 Degrees of elevation 284
232 Two swerves 285
233 Three-step aiming 286
234 Three practice shots 287
235 Two practical massés 288
236 Inside forced massé 289
237 Outside forced massé 290
238 Reverse position 291
239 Swerve position 292
240 U-turn position 293
241 U-turn extended 294
242 Massé draw 295
243 Frozen massé 296
244 Frozen rail swerve 297
245 Kiss-back massé 298
246 The push curve 299
247 Backward position 300

19 Systems
248 Around the table-I 304
249 Around the table-II 305
250 Around the table-III 306
251 Opposite three-I 307
252 Opposite three-II 308
253 Opposite three-III 309
254 End rail first-I 310
255 End rail first-II 311
256 End rail first-III 312

20 Selected Secrets
257 English and distance 315
258 Two clearance shots 316
259 A clearance bank 317
260 Interference system 318
261 Aggressive defense-I 319
262 Aggressive defense-II 320
263 Defensive offense-I 321
264 Defensive offense-II 322
265 Winning options 323
266 A sneaky ploy 324
267 Safe or sorry 325
268 Choice of position 326
269 Creating a break ball 327
270 Insurance-I 328
271 Insurance-II 329
272 Run around or back around 330
273 Time shot-I 331
274 Time shot-II 332

Appendix
The Culture of the Game 333

Index 353

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2005

    Excellent

    This book is excellent for the player who is more than decent at the game and is looking to braoden his/her spectrum of shots. The book has many new concepts and a excellent variety of real game situation shots and techniques

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    Great Explanations to Back the Theory!

    Mr Byrne has an 'easy to understand' teaching style. Not only does he do a great job of illustrating, he does an even better job of explaining the 'why' of his theory. Because of this, it was easy for me to understand and absorb the information. This is a great, easy read!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2009

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    Posted February 11, 2009

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