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Carambola: more than tricky pool


We already know Chayanne from the tv series Provócame, where he portrays a shy stable hand who also sings the show's sanguine theme song. Now we encounter his wilder side, singing about Lola, a jet-set party-loving socialite who might even be a bit dangerous:

Como disfrutas la carambola, Lola

How you enjoy deceit, Lola

Caption 15, Chayanne - Lola

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But how does carambola translate as "deceit?"

The usage evolves from a billiards shot (known in English as a cannon), whereby the cue ball ricochets off its target and hits a third ball, seemingly by chance, in a way that's beneficial to the player. The word comes from a pocket-less type of billiards known in English as carom billiards, and in Spanish as billar de carambolas (or just carambolas) where these types of rebounding shots are standard and can be
amazing to watch.

So when someone (like Chayanne's Lola) plays her hand to achieve some benefit and makes it look like an accident, she is doing una carambola. A skillful billiards player bounces off one ball to hit another, and a skillful conman sets a trap that does not directly point back to him.

Estoy seguro que los políticos están haciendo carambola.
I'm sure that the politicians are doing something illicit.

However, not all uses of the term have negative overtones. Because the carambola shot appears to be fortuitous by happenstance, de carambola can also simply refer to chance, good luck, or "dumb luck."


Vine a recoger unos papeles y me encontré con Camilo de carambola.
I came to pick up some papers and I found Camilo by chance.

Pateó al arco, el balón golpeó en un defensor y entró de carambola.
He kicked toward the goal; the ball hit a defender and went in by luck.


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