This past Friday was the last night of the 9-ball singles league I joined 9 weeks ago.  This was the first session on the new night at Cue & Cushion and was my first league as a single player, as well as my first 9-ball league AND on the big 9-foot tables.  This session had 10 players ranked between A and D, with each rank giving up 2 games for each difference in a race to 9 games.  I was ranked as a B, meaning I gave 2 games to C players and 4 games to D players.  It also meant, I got 2 games when I played the A players.

I finished with a record of 7 wins and 2 losses. I’m quite pleased with myself for my overall performance, but I still know that I can do better.  The 2 games I lost, I lost because my head wasn’t there. I couldn’t force myself to focus, to concentrate, nor did I stick to my pre-shot routine.  After thinking about it a while, I have to come to realize why I had so much trouble at the end of the session, compared to the beginning.

For starters, I began the session with the intent on playing my best and just trying to keep a .500 rating (same number of wins and losses).  After narrowly coming out on top of the two A players early on and winning strongly against another B player, I started to relax a bit.  I still had dangerous C players to outrun and more B players overcome, but yet, I started looking at the scores instead of the matches.  When I started off 3-0, I was in shock, as two of those wins were against the only A players in the league.  Then I lost my first match in a tough hill-hill battle with the player who ended up taking 1st place.  The only reason I lost that match was because I couldn’t focus.  She and I were tied for first at that time and I let myself get caught up in the idea of how awesome it would be to go 4-0.  I already reviewed that match, but it was then that I started this trend of coming from behind.  She got out to an early lead of 5-1 and then I was able to catch a gear and get back to 5-5 and from there we traded games until she won.  

That sort of pattern has been pretty evident these last 3 or 4 matches now. Just this last week, I played the D player.  I spotted him 4 games going to 9. I missed the first 2 9-balls and left them hanging, so he’s now at 6, and I’m still at 0.  That’s a scary spot, no matter the skill level difference.  Him needing 3 and me needing 9… that’s tough.  But, again, I finally found a gear and was able to get 4 games before I let him get another one. So at 7-4, I’m getting worried.  Then he gets another one, because I blew my shape, again, on the 6, forcing a tough shot on the 6, which had to force shape on the 7, which I missed.  So, I leave with a pretty simple 3 ball out.  I didn’t expect him to make all 3 though, he’s not the kind of guy you’d expect to make 3 balls in a row, all the time. So, now he needs 1 and I still need 5.  I took a break, went to wash my hands, and try and calm down a bit.  I decided that since I kept blowing the 7 or 8, I’d quit going for the runout, even though I know I *can* do it – but not that day.  I had to realize, to accept the fact that I’m just not shooting my best game that day.  Once I did that, I started playing a lot smarter.  I’d run 2 or 3, play safe if it was an iffy shot.  I started playing percentages, basically. It worked out for me, since I was able to win the next 5 games in a row. 🙂

That match win guaranteed me 2nd place in the league, by both my match record and actual number of game wins.  3rd/4th place was decided by game wins between two players with the same match win record.  3rd place was won by a single rack.

This coming Friday is the league party where the prizes are given out. Then we have a few weeks off before the next session begins, 2nd week of July, I think it is?  I will definitely be playing in that one.

I was worried I might be raised to an A player, considering my record, but was informed that rankings don’t change every session.  I just happened to get more rolls than the other guy.  I hate saying it, but I knew that’s why I was winning.  When I miss, I miss very well, usually (leaving the other guy hooked or long or tough).  Or if I had to bump some balls, a lot of the time I’d get the best of it.  Or, even more the case, I’d miss early on in the rack, they’d run 5 or 6 balls and miss the 7 or 8, leaving me an easy out.  It’s the same thing I do when I give up games.  Break and run to the 7, miss it and leave a 2 or 3 ball out.

I guess this means I need to play the 6 or 7 ball ghost a lot more.  I tried playing the 9-ball ghost about a month ago and he tortured me 11-0.  But if I had been playing the 6 ball ghost, I think I might have got him.  I will have to do some testing and figure out what’s happening.  I think I know… it’s my position play.  The further into the rack I get the more out of line I get, so each shot becomes tougher and tougher and I’m forced to cut balls thinner and thinner and try and force position more often.  After a while, of course I’m going to totally screw myself.  Which usually happens around the 7 ball. *sigh*