A Binsonite poised to strike the white ballIzzy Heagren with permission for Varsity

If Spartans were born with a sword in their hand then Robinson students came forth with a cue. Upon entering those red and hallowed halls, there is an expectation placed upon billiards excellence. This is certainly a dramatic opening, but there is evidence to back it up. The College has won three of the last five Division One titles and four of the final seven Cuppers before the competition was disbanded in 2019. Last season was a particular highlight, as across three teams Robinson remained unbeaten and ended the year as champions of both divisions One and Three. But the question remains: what is the reason for this domination?

To outsiders there is little that catches the eye about Robinson (except for the mass of red bricks), as Cambridge’s newest college lacks the history and grandeur of many of its neighbours. But there is a sense of community embedded in the College’s social structures that has allowed pool to thrive. The two key social hubs of the College, the bar and the JCR, both possess pool tables that are in constant use throughout an evening. Pool is always a popular social activity when available, and Robinson fourth-year PhD student and Cambridge University snooker captain Alex Fisher says the College’s set up is the reason for its success. He commented on a lack of tables in other colleges and stated that “given the facilities, it’s no surprise that Robinson always has a couple of players in the university teams.” Alex himself is one of these players. For Alex it was not only the competitive matches, but also the opportunity to practise with other high quality players every day that went a long way to developing him into the player he is today. He started playing snooker and pool at 16 before starting at Robinson just two years later, so there is no doubt that the College played a key role in his development.

Of course, there are other factors that contribute to the success of the teams, one being the hard work and organisation of current first team captain, Timothy Wong. When I asked him why he felt the College had always excelled he said: “We’ve always had good players,” and evidence of past triumphs undoubtedly suggests this. But this is not by chance. Pool tables are found at the heart of Robinson’s social culture, and the bar is cheap, which amounts to a lively and pool-friendly atmosphere – an atmosphere that is often beneficial during home games, because as in any sport, a home crowd goes a long way. Without the popularity of the bar, a lot less pool would be played in the college, and as we all know by now, practice makes perfect.


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As captain of the third team last season I witnessed this first hand, as a group consisting entirely of freshers went from having very little experience of the sport to a team that was able to win promotion. No one encapsulated this transformation more so than Will McLaughlin. He started the season as the third team reserve and ended it by coolly potting the ball that secured another Division One title for the firsts. He put his improvement down to two things: the availability of £2.20 Bin Brew pints, and “Stephen Hendry’s Cue Tips” on YouTube.

The talent of uni players such as Timothy and Alex coupled with the enthusiasm of others to pick up a cue has transformed Robinson into the red brick fortress it appears from the outside. But the true hero is the social setup inside the walls. The legacy of pool at Robinson looks in safe hands for a few years yet.