Friday was the first night of the new 9-Ball in-house league taking place at Cue & Cushion. I hurriedly ran home after work, showered, changed clothes, ate and drove back across the city to get there at 6:45. League started at 7. I hit some balls and was warming up decently, then we had the players’ meeting. A couple of interesting notes: 1) Because the room doesn’t supply them, Magic Racks are not allowed by individual players. That kind of sucks, but what’s lucky for my opponent is also lucky for me. 2) It’s alternating break! That was a serious surprise, a most welcome one, even though I’m not a break’n’run player, I still get to break. 3) (and this is my favorite) The THREE FOUL RULE! I doubt I’ll win any games on the 3 foul rule, but just knowing it’s there makes me quite happy. It’s a race to 9, and it’s handicapped. The number of games on the wire is determined by the difference in the player’s handicaps. For my match, I’m a 4 and I played a 6, so I was given 2 games on the wire.
There are 10 players this round, and there’s 10 weeks of league, so we’ll get to play everyone twice it looks like.
My first match, I drew a guy named Arthur. I remember him from when I used to play up there during the day a lot. He’s a good player – I was surprised he was only a 6 though, I seem to remember him shooting better. *shrug* We flipped for the break, I won the flip, so *if* this went hill-hill I’d have the break in the last rack.
The table was not breaking very well, and I couldn’t get the wing ball to go at all. Nor could I get the cut-break working for the 1 in the side. Most breaks, for both of us, were dry. We each took several innings during each rack, and I will be the first to tell you, I was getting all the rolls. If I missed a ball, he was dead hooked. When playing safeties, I would get some nice rubs and hook him pretty good. When he hooked me, I’d make a good hit. Actually, my kicking was dead-on that night. Here are 2 of my most perplexing situations and the kicks that I finally shot:
This next one actually wasn’t a good hit, but I’m still so impressed with how close I have to post it. If it wasn’t for the bend off the 3rd rail, it would have hit it. I stroked through the ball and got out of the way… when it cleared the 8, I was shocked. When it hit the rail I thought I was golden, then I saw the bend. Even my opponent was surprised, and let out a “WHOA!” as the CB narrowly missed the edge of the 3.
Last one. I’m usually not very good with 1 rail kicks, but I figured I’d try this, it turned out better than planned, although I have to admit, I only planned a 1-railer and ended up shooting a 2-railer.
After that I was able to get out. I lost the first games, effectiving making it an even race to 7. But, because I was getting some rolls, and he wasn’t shooting all that well (position problems), I stayed with him to keep it even at a score 5-5. Then I snapped the 9 on the break, making it 6-5. I think he started reallying trying to bear down here, but it was too late, as I was feeling confident and quit missing shots as often. I got to 7-5, then 8-5. Then he got one from me as I jarred the 9, making it 8-6. In the next rack, he was really on it… ran to the 8, overdrew the CB straight into the side pocket getting position on the 9. He offered his hand and said ‘Good shooting.’.
That’s a pretty good way to start the league, a win. A win over of a better player even. I was really happy about that, no matter how I got it.
It got me thinking though… I wonder if Art had fallen prey to the “playing down to your opponent” mentality… while at the same time I was able to step up my game because I knew I was playing a tougher player. But this doesn’t always work… when I play my old team captain, for example, I usually end up playing like I’ve never held a cue before. I don’t know why, exactly, but I know it’s a mental thing because whenever we’re done playing, I start making balls again. That’s an entirely different blog post though.
Overall, I’m reminded why I like C&C so much more than the other pool halls. Even though C&C is brightly lit and still living in 1967, decor-wise, I feel better there… I feel stronger there. It’s like a feeling of “this is a house of pool players”, whereas when I got to SportsCenter, it’s a feeling of “this is bad imitation of an under-age club with some pool tables”. I’m not usually one who personally subscribes to the idea of a place’s energy; but there is definitely a different vibe happening at C&C and whatever it is… it suits me just fine.