An underground billiards bar in central Moscow. Customers blithely ignore anti-smoking laws and a tired-looking waitress slopes between the tables, handing out drinks. Kostya and Ivan, a pair of Georgian ‘businessmen’, watch through the gloom as two Englishmen struggle through a few games of Russian billiards. A couple of hours and several dodgy frames of pool later, the Georgians emerge with ₽1000 (around £13) to their names. The hustle is complete. A poorly executed and time-consuming hustle yes, but a hustle nonetheless. Could I have hoped for a finer return to Russian life?