I really wasn’t expecting too much from league last night. Last week, I gave up my only game by scratching on the 8 because I was careless with the shot. Actually, that’s not entirely true, I knew the scratch was there because when I saw it, I was reminded of a guy I played in a tournament who scratched on this shot. That was my doom. However, given that, I didn’t think I’d play more than once, and considering the amount of weight we were giving to this team, it’s possible I wouldn’t have played at all.

In a race to 16, we gave the other team 10 (TEN) games on the wire. So, we had to win SIXTEEN (16) games, they only had to win six (6). That means 2 things: 1) We should steamroll them and 2) we can’t afford to play loose. It’s that 2nd point which made me think I wasn’t going to play.

But, it turns out we were short-handed. I arrived late, so I missed the first round, which is fine, as I never play the first round if there’s ever a choice. I did play the 2nd round, and considering I hadn’t hit a ball at all, I played pretty well. Came to the table with a back-cut down the rail shot. Made that, and cleared the pocket for another ball, but in doing so, I also pocketed a solid. Because I missed my next shot, the table was still open. It didn’t matter though, the guy still took solids, and left me with stripes – which is what I wanted in the first place. His bad, solids were problematic. He made a few then missed. I started my run and a few balls later I tried to break up another cluster but missed the break out. I decided to play a safe and locked him up behind the 8, leaving the only ball he can hit, the same cluster I had just missed. So, he breaks it up and leaves me pretty open with 3 balls left. I run out. 🙂

After that, our 7, Tattoo John, went home cuz he was sick and it was obvious he wasn’t needed, even with the gigantic spot. So, I got to the play next round. I lost the lag, and here’s the table after my opponent breaks dry. (see the cue-table layout below) I meander around the table a while and decide that I absolutely want stripes. How to start? My only real shot is the 14. The 10 goes as well, but with it being right by the side, I wanted to save it for later, I can use it break out the 15 if necessary. So, I lined up on the 14 and sent it in. Then I looked around and I didn’t like trying to play 3 balls ahead for an iffy shot on the 15 or 12, so I decided to slice that 12. I’ve been hitting those pretty good lately, and if I miss, my opponent still has a lot of trouble to deal with. As it happened, I sank that one as well. Now, to clear the upper half of the table. Start with the 13, come back for the 9 or 10, depending on where I end up. After the 13 dropped, I knew I had to form a plan for the 15, which only went in 1 pocket. If I could get straight on the 11, I could follow down and get on the 15. So, what gets me straight on the 11? A stop-shot on the 10 would do it. So… how do I get there? Draw back a little bit on the 9. Okay. Well, I over hit the draw shot because I forgot just how quick this particular table was. It was my first draw shot of the night. So, I get a bit out of line and have to super-slow roll the 10 in. It was so slow in fact, that the 10 nearly didn’t make it the 2 inches it had to roll. The opponent was very vocal about the last-minute “plunk”. “Are you f’n serious?!” he shouted. I just laughed and said, I didn’t think it’d make it either. A few other comments and laughs came and went. I took a minute, several deeeeep breaths, and got down on the 11. After it dropped and I had shape on the 15, I heard another “You gotta be kidding me!” from him. I took aim on the 15, sent it rolling and then watched the cb, making sure it didn’t go too far. I called the upper corner, took some more relaxing breaths and sent it down the table and in the pocket. “kerplunk!” To see the progression of the shots, click the arrows in the lower right hand corner of the diagram below.

As it happens, because Tattoo left, I got to play another game. This time, it was the hill game for us. They still needed 3. I was feeling good, but also very nervous. I’ve never played a hill game for us. But, I was excited to give it a try! I lost the lag again and the guy didn’t put up a really good break. But, even still, it would have to do. I walked around the table a few times deciding who had the most problems, finally deciding on solids. I start my run. 3 in the corner w/inside to get on the 5. Roll forward on the 5 to get on the 1 to break out the 4. Make the 5, make the 1, knock the 9 away from the 4. Make the 4, but miss the kiss on the 12, end up a little lucky to be in the narrow window for the 2 on the other side. Even better, as I make the 2 and break out the 8, but I’ve left myself the wrong angle on the 7. I try and power-stun the CB off the 7 into the side, uptable and back over for the 6, but being jacked up, I don’t get enough stun on the ball and I end up hidden behind a few balls. I kick 2-rails at the 6, but don’t hit it hard enough, so no rail foul. Opponent makes a few balls, misses, leaves me a pretty straight, pretty long shot on the 6 which I have to juice up with top to get back down table for the 8. I over-cheat the pocket and the 6 banks back down table and crashes into a few of his balls. I had position though. He makes a few more, misses again and leaves me open on the 6. It’s nearly identical to the shot I played on the 10 in the previous rack. Slow-roll into the side, then the slice I had on the 12 earlier, only replace the 12 with the 8 – and that’s the game! I won the game and the match for our team!

3 wins, no losses; overall, a great evening for me! I was actually happy with being in a league on the way home. I think the other guys knew how important that night was. They all congratulated me on a night well played and for winning the hill game. I needed some positive encouragement, so that really hit the spot. 🙂