So, Friday I was contemplating what I wanted to do… hit the usual place and just bang some balls, maybe practice a bit and see who shows up. Or I hit The Rail and look for a game. I was pretty sure I could find a game there as that place has a lot of younger people that like to play some cheat sets. Well, as I was finishing dinner and watching some US Open action, I got a txt from Asmir asking if I wanted to play a bit. I decided that I did. So, I readied myself and headed up to SportsCenter for some 9 Ball action. Races to 7, even.
Overall, I came out on top, which is good (and I think a first with this guy for some reason). The first set was pretty sloppy, neither of us played too well, and no one ran out a full rack all night. There were a few 7 ball outs, but that was about it.
I won the first set 7-5, I think it was. We played again, and he quickly got it up to 3-0 by combo-ing the 9 off the 2 or 3 a few times. I made a few great shots, including one rail runner that was about an 80 degree cut from the side pocket, but I over-stroked it and the cueball followed the 9 into the same pocket off 2 rails. 🙁 I made the same shot later that same set, but didn’t scratch that time. Overall, he rode the 9 out 4 times, I scratched on the 9 at least once, meaning he won that set handily at 7-3 or something. I played poorly, giving up BIH too often. Oh well.
We played again and I was determined to play well again. I took a break, washed my hands and face, did some calming breathing and came out ready to play, serious and ready to win. As such, here’s the first rack of the 3rd set. It was also probably the best out of the night. Also, as I realized my hard-break wasn’t working at all, I was suddenly hit with the hours of the US Open coverage and how they changed their break according to the table. I tried moving across the headstring, left to right, but nothing was consistent. So, I decided to take a note from Corey Deuel and went with a much slower break. As it turns out, that was the most repeatably productive break of the night. I think of the breaks I had in the last set, I made the wing-ball 80% of the time. 😉
Later in the set, I concentrated on playing smart, and as such one rack had a few good safeties, including one that gave me BIH with 4 balls on the table. (Video) Although I still got out of line quite a bit that night, I’m not really “unhappy” with my play; just sort of disappointed with my focus coming and going.
Another benefit to this night was I actually got to use my jump-cue several times. I’m still not a sure-shot to make the ball, but I’m getting much better at getting over balls and hitting the object ball. If the target is within a 1×1 diamond of the pocket, there’s a really good chance I’m making it.
I’m definitely gaining confidence with long thin cuts, although they aren’t hangers yet, I’m not nearly as afraid to shoot them anymore, as this video shows back to back slices to get on the 6-9 combo for the rack.
However, my steam ran out and I started to struggle when I was up 4-1 in the last set. I missed a couple of 9 balls, an 8 ball that was dead position to the 9 twice and before I knew it, he was up 6-4; on the hill. The pressure and hour was getting to both of us as he missed a few very makeable shots and I was able to get it to hill-hill. I played a poor shot and he ran down to the 7, missed and left me a very close-ball rail runner, which I hung up. He also missed that pretty bad, which left me a relatively decent shot to get on the 8-9 combo along the long rail. I sunk the 7 and got great shape on the 8. I had to cut the 8 just a little bit to knock the down the rail those last 2 diamonds, and in it went. He was visibly upset about the loss; as well he should be. He missed the out ball too many times. On the other hand, I gave him FIVE games by missing the 9 or 8. So, really, I should’ve won that set 7-2, but oh well. A win is a win.
I can’t say it was a good confidence booster, but in reality, it sort of is. I mean, I didn’t play my “A” game and he didn’t either. I think we played right around our average speed with the normal ups and downs that come along with being a C player. It does show progression in my game, and not overconfidence, which I was really suffering from a few months ago.