2 & Out - Again.

Last night I hit the weekly tournament again.  I was running a little late, but got there in time to hit 2 racks before my first match.  I drew this guy named Casper; who I suspect is the very same who I've heard about from my other [ex]leaguemates.  I still didn't care, I wanted to see this guy place.  I once was told when I asked how he played, point blank: "You can't beat him." Okay yeah, so I can't beat a lot of people; that doesn't tell me anything, thanks.  But that's a different story.  So, we start off on our race to 7. He breaks dry, I run a few, get a bank on the 3 ball, with the CB running dead into the 9. I made the bank, but hung the 9.  Run a few more and play the 6-9 combo. Yay! First on the board!  Then, he gets the next 4.  I get another, and he gets 2, so now it's 6-2.  I'm not sure what happened, but he let me back in, and I got to hill-hill. On the break, I made the 1 and 2, but was left with this nonsense.  I was feeling a bit extra cocky since I had just ran out the last 5, starting with a ridiculous cut shot in the previous rack.  I never should've played this, but I did and this is how it turned up:

Casper couldn't believe it either.  I said he's gotta shoot it - it's a technicality of mine. Of course he drilled it.  

Incidentally, the ridiculous cut shot I made was this one:

I didn't like the bank and I figured if I wrecked into the 5, it's unlikely that I'll leave it hanging.  I actually couldn't believe it was able to hit this shot so well.

Anyway - after that, I to wait more than 2 hours before my next match.  It did not go well at all. I didn't get to shoot to often, but when I did, I couldn't around too much.  The first rack, he scratched on the 6, I took ball in hand, made the 6, got shape on the 7, and over-drew it straight into the corner pocket. *sigh* And that's how the match went for me. I went down 5-1.  Oh well.

Afterwards, I went out to the Rail to hang out with Stephen; whom I haven't played with in a long time.  While there, I sold him my extra Predator Air Jump cue, which I had originally bought from him about 8 months ago. haha We played a ring game with another guy I've heard about, Brian (Mc)Daniels. (Can't remember if the Mc was there or not)  I started off well enough, up a few bucks, but the by the end of the night, I was down about 20. *sigh* I was always the underdog in that game, Steve shoots considerably straighter than I do - and Brian gives Steve weight, so... I was happy to make a few balls here and there.

I gotta start playing more though. This once or twice a week stuff is for the birds. I'm dying to make it past the first round of the weekly tournament. *sigh* Gotta keep the dogs out of the yard though.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Earl vs Shane - Review

I mentioned in my last post that I wasn't planning on leaving the house, but in all reality - I fully expected to miss at least half of this match because I wasn't to go play instead of watching people play.  However, after watching the first hour on Friday while killing time, I found myself glued to the computer screen until the end of the evening! I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  Earl playing like a god! Meanwhile, SVB couldn't seem to catch a break. Bad bump here, rattle the pocket there; it was just weird.  I watched as Earl extended his lead to win the first day by 11 games.

Saturday day was something of a lazy for me and as the night drew closer, I realized that I really wanted to watch more of this match. So I grabbed a laptop and hooked it up to my new tv to watch the stream from the comfort of my couch instead of the computer chair.  I was not disappointed. Earl, again, played fantastic and with almost no outbursts or extended rants even! However, he was now sporting earplugs AND baggage handler ear-muffs!! LOL Unfortunately, Shane's play seemed to drop off. At one point he was down by 17 games! I was able to bring it to within 5, but still ended the night down 10 games heading into the final day with a sort of 70-60.

Sunday I decided that I couldn't possibly miss the end of this match and so I watched the clock and fired up the stream.  Earl seemed to still be in control of the table, no matter what Shane did.  I watched as Shane bobbled balls, missed some shots by more than 3 inches and generally blowing position more often than not.  He did, strangely enough, out-safe Earl on average.  He had such tremendous speed control when playing safe, I don't understand how he could overrun position by 2 feet on one shot, then underrun position on the next by 2 feet. It was all very odd.  Once in a while, Shane would catch a gear in a rack, run-out, then scratch on the break.  I only saw 2 break'n'runs by Shane, both were followed by either a dry break or a scratch on the next rack.  He just never got going and it destroyed his confidence.  Earl did lose it at one point, falling on the floor, throwing his 70 INCH cue down, and smashing his earmuffs.  However, and this is the funny part: He had back-up earmuffs!!  After that outburst, he seemed to recollect himself and continue pocketing balls like a genius.  He played on that table like I've seen SVB play on most other 9' tables.  He made the game look easy.  Shane made it look like it was an obstacle course.  

Earl won the match by a substantial margin, but just the fact that Earl won is the most amazing thing.  Almost no one in the pool world had picked Earl to win.  Everyone assumed he'd lose it, blow up and get down 30 games before he recovered.  It never happened.  He led the entire match! The first score I saw on Friday was Earl up 2-0, and I never saw Shane even the score.

Even though I paid for the PPV stream, I really want to buy the DVD because I think regardless of how poorly Shane played, Earl played so well it's worth buying again.  I was pulling for Shane the whole time, but couldn't help but feel good to see Earl doing so well.  All his years of talking about how he's the best player in the universe on a 5x10 turns out to be true.  In an interview after the match, Shane said he couldn't beat him on a 5x10 (which is something of a twist on one of Shane's tag lines "He can't beat me." was morphed into "I can't beat him.".  It's a bit of an inside joke between SVB and TAR.).  He also said he's not sure if anyone could beat Earl on that table; however he did mention that maybe Alex [Pagulayan] could.  That would be an interesting match for sure.

The next big match for Earl is the Bad Blood match between him and Johnny Archer, races to 15 in 10-ball and 8-ball followed by a race teo 150 in straight pool.  That is in just 2 weeks, and Johnny had better be careful because I think this win is going to light a serious fire under Earl's ass.  However, I do know that Johnny is going to torture Earl, saying "he's getting back 25 years of antagonizing me".

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Filed Under: 10-Ball

Earl vs Shane - Pre-match Interviews

This just showed up, courtesy of The Action Report. After the little promo there's interviews with both Shane and Earl and their thoughts about the table.  They playing on a 5x10 foot table!! With what looks to be just 4-inch pockets! It's a race to 100 over three days, don't plan on leaving the house this weekend. :)

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Filed Under: 10-Ball

Awesome Safety

I went to play in the weekly tournament again last night.  After not hitting a ball for more than a week, I certainly didn't expect to do very well.  And although I lost 12 out of 13 matches for the entire night, there are 2 shots I pulled which are worth mentioning.  Both came in my 1-loss side match, the first is this one:

He had pushed out after the break to the initial layout. This guy is a smart player so I figured he had a plan if I gave it back. I looked at it a few minutes then saw it.  I wasn't sure if I could pull it off, but even if I didn't hide the 1, there'd still be distance involved.  I thinned the 1 and watched it trickle on over behind the 5, I was quite happy.  Then I noticed the cue ball travelling precariously close to the corner pocket.  It missed it, and 2-railed to end up behind the 8.  I couldn't believe it!  It's probably one of the best safeties I have ever intentionally played.  Now, I did not figure to get behind the 8 as I was mostly playing the 1 ball with the hope of getting down-table without running into anything.

The 2nd great shot was another safety, where he got on the wrong side of the 2, leaving no pocket for it.  He banked it up-table and hide me behind a blocker.  I thought about jumping over the blocker, but then I noticed the 2 ball was on the dead corner-5 track.  I looked at the rest of the track and the path was clear, plus going this way it was less dangerous of a foul.  I lined up, hit the cb about "pocket speed" to send it to the corner (meaning hard enough to move the 2 away, but didn't fire it).  I got a nice roll by hitting the 2 rail-first when sent the CB nicely over to hide behind 2 blockers.  I don't think I could do it again on purpose, but I'll be sure to remember that rail-first trick in the future!

I still lost that match 5-0 because I couldn't even get close to controlling my speed, I always overran by 2 feet, or underran by 2 feet. 

Like I said, I didn't expect to do too well, but I didn't expect to go down 7-1 in my first and 5-0 in the 2nd.  I never really got mad though, which is good - but I also know I didn't because I was mentally exhausted and entirely distracted from the tournament by some things going on in my personal life.  

After I lost the 2nd match, I stayed and hit some balls just to make sure I can do it. It was nice "alone" time at the time, I didn't do any drills or anything, just tried to remember the last few stroke techniques I was trying to employ.

Oh, one more entertaining point.  At one point, he tried to play safe on the 7 and nearly got there, but he left the important edge.  I got down, hit and watch it trickle across the table and hit the long rail!! I never overcut that ball, usually I undercut it and drive it straight into the end rail. Even my opponent mentioned you don't often see that. hahaha

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

Shane van Boening vs Earl Strickland!!

That is all.

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Filed Under: 10-Ball

Tournament Review

Last night I hit up my first weekly tournament over at The Break.  It's a $10 entry, no handicap, double elimination, races to 7 on winner's side/5 on one-loss side, barbox 9-ball format.  I had no idea what to expect when I got there.  I thought I might run into a few people from the area, and I was right.  It was great seeing those guys again (Gene and Gary), as it's been what seems like forever since we've hung out.

Anyway, after paying my entry and finding an open table to warm up, I noticed some things immediately.  1) The tables had just recently been recovered. 2) Red circle cue balls. 3) Clean and polished balls. 4) No quarters required.  Well, on one hand, this was absolutely awesome.  Nice tables, clean balls and the good cue ball. On the other hand, this is not at all what I was expecting, as I've been practicing on crappy cloth, with filthy balls, unreliable rails and the heavy red-dot cue ball.

I hit a few racks, ran out once, then a guy comes over to play a bit before the event started.  He was an older gentleman and was not shooting very well, but I didn't let that get my hopes up for the rest of the players.  Shortly after he quit to go have a beer, they called the first round.

I drew a guy named Kevin and he won the flip.  I racked, he broke and the 9 got kicked into the upper corner pocket.  Well, aint that a kick in the face! The next rack he wasn't so lucky. We took a few innings at the table, but I got the 2nd rack.  We traded racks back and forth for the next 4 games, being tied at 3 a-piece.  Then he got rattled or something and start missing shots I'd already seem him make several times already.  I got up to a 5-4 lead, but that didn't last long.  He snapped another 9 in to tie it at 5, now it's a race to 2.  He broke and ran the next rack to get on the hill.  He broke dry the next rack and I started negotiating the layout.  The 3 was close to the 7 on the long rail, didn't go in the corner, but layed great for a bank.  Unfortunately, I hit it about 1/2 inch short and the ball bounced off both corners of the side pocket and rolled  away.  He ran out from there, handing me my first loss.

I wasn't really upset by anything during the game (other than snapping 2 9's), I only missed a couple of shots; none that were standard or considered "gimmes" though.  Although, even a dead straight-in with the CB in the jaws of one pocket and the object ball just passed the side pocket to the opposite diagonal corner is only about a 5 foot shot, I wouldn't call it a hanger.  I did hit that one pretty bad.  But, I made up for it when he got out of shape on the 9 and left it at the 2nd diamond by the headspot, and the CB 2 inches off the foot rail, dead straight and I drilled the 9 with a perfect stop-shot.

Anyway, my next match with a guy named Chad, whom I had recently met up at SportsCenter.  He's a strong player, more consistent than I am and having played before I think I already expected to lose; especially in a short race to 5.  I won the flip, broke made a ball, and had shape on the 1 ball. But, and I noticed this all night, whenever I wanted to just hit a soft stop shot, I'd draw the ball back about a ball's width.  Normally that's not an issue, but when position is tight, it can quickly get you into trouble. Such was the case here, and moreso on a table that was recovered just a few days ago.  There wasn't even break/burn marks on this one yet.  A little back and forth the first rack, each of us feeling the speed of the table, but I did end up winning the first one.  Then he won the next 2, then his missed a thin cut on the 9 and handed me the game, so again, tied at 2 - racing to 3 now.  

Every once in a while he'd strike up a conversation about something relating to sports center, the upcoming one-pocket tournament, the other kids there, the upcoming Midest 9-Ball tour, etc.  I opted to engage in conversation because it felt more like playing any of the other locals, which made me feel a little more comfortable, and forget about the tournament.  But in retrospect, I'm not sure I should've done that.  I noticed that one particularly long conversation, I just got down and shot, without executing my pre-shot routine at all.  Of course, I missed the ball and he ran out from there.  After that, I made sure to take my time any time we stopped talking and get back to the table.  It did help, as at one point he missed the 3 ball and left me with a very thin cut. I sliced it in avoided the pockets and traffic and got back up for the 4.  Unfortunately, a few balls later, I'd get a bump off another ball and end up getting myself hooked on the 7.  I kicked at it, but left it literally dead straight in with natural shape on the 8.  He, of course, ran the last 3 to win the match 5-3.

And that was it for me.  2 and out.  I really didn't expect to do much better, but I would've liked to have made it past the first round on either side of the bracket.  Still, I wasn't upset or depressed or angry. I took a seat at the bar and watched Gene play a while and talked to the bartendar about the tournament and the players, etc.  

At one point during the first match, I had several mental processes going on that I was surprised about.  If I got to the table with a decent layout my inner-voice-from-nowhere would say "ooh! I should be out!" just as I was preparing to shoot the first ball.  It was then I stood up, was reminded of the book "Pleasures of Small Motions" where it says you can't ignore those thoughts; instead they must be dealt with.  So, I looked the table over calmly, letting my brain do the calculations, letting my inner-voice talk itself out until it's ready to let me start shooting.  Usually, barring any really positions, the rack went as planned.  

I didn't get nervous at the table, I didn't get the shakes. I was surprised.  And happy.

I really can't wait to go back next week! :)

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

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