Have you heard the one about the one-eyed billiards player?

After twice winning the Clubs NZ North Island Handicap Billiards trophy, Whangārei's 82-year-old Paddy Tattley lost focus in his right eye - his aiming eye - but that didn't stop him winning the trophy again after reinventing his game to base his play on mathematics.

Paddy reckons he's almost blind in the eye and after winning the last of his two previous Bryan Villers Shields (for winning the Clubs NZ North Island Handicap Billiards comp) in 2008 (he also won it in 2003) he was worried how he'd far in this year's comp.

But after the former plumber reinvented his game - "I used to be a plumber so can tell the length of pipe exactly" - and based on mathematics he won again.

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And what made his win even sweeter was that he beat his prodigy (and also his GP) Whangārei doctor Damian Wojcik in the final in Tokoroa. Both men play for the Kamo Club and Paddy said he was grateful for the club's for paying his entry to the competition and other support.

Paddy Tattley with the Bryan Villers Shields for winning the Clubs NZ North Island Handicap Billiards comp, and the trophies he has won for each of the three years he has won the event.
Paddy Tattley with the Bryan Villers Shields for winning the Clubs NZ North Island Handicap Billiards comp, and the trophies he has won for each of the three years he has won the event.

Paddy said his eyesight in his right eye had been deteriorating and he has been left unable to focus with it.

''That was my dominant eye and about five years ago I had a clot in it. I had five operations on the eye trying to get rid of the clot. The clot was going to kill me so they blasted it with a laser. But now I've got no focus in the right eye so I had to learn how to play the game again.''

Paddy is a bit of a character and was determined that this would not be the end of his love of billiards.

''So I broke the game down to what it is all about, mathematics, trigonometry. For four years I couldn't play in any tournaments because I was getting regular treatment for my eye and was having a bit of trouble with it. Then I got back into it after teaching myself to read the shots in feet and inches, get it down to the trigonometry.

''I learned to pick the exact spot to make the shot and how much force to use. Trigonometry is a big part of every shot so I taught myself to do it that way.''

He said he had been asked to teach Wojcik how to play better a number of years ago and it was rewarding to have played him in the final.

However, before taking to the table in the final Paddy's glasses ''didn't work. I just couldn't focus with them at all, even with my good eye. So I had to play the final without any glasses, which was hard''.

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He beat Wojcik by ''40 or 50 points, in a one-hour game.''

"It was bit of luck really to win against Damian,'' Paddy says modestly.

"He made a bit of a mistake with his first shot while he was stringing and I managed to take advantage and go on for the win.

"We had a good game though and I'm proud we both made it to the final. It was good for us and the Kamo Club, who have really been wonderful with me and I really appreciate their input.''

Stringing is a way of deciding which player first gets options to strike. It is similar to toss in any other match.

In billiards, both players play the cue ball towards the opposite cushion and ensure it comes back to the baulk cushion. Whoever manages to keep the ball closer to the baulk cushion has the option whether to go first or second.

Paddy said he was always happy to pass on his advice and knowledge to others who wanted to learn the game - regardless of their age.

He isn't a life-long billiards player himself, having only taken up the game when he was 45.

''You're never too old to learn it really.''

Even if you don't have full eyesight.