Back on December 8th, I played in the local Top Gun tournament stemming from the summer session of the APA.  It was my first APA session and I finished 2nd for 9-ball (8-ball was horrible that session).  I had planned on going home early the night before to ensure a good night’s sleep – but that didn’t really happen.  Still, I arrived at the venue shortly after they opened.  During my warmup, I broke and ran twice; and figured I was ready a few racks later.  I had the awesome racks – then some “what the hell is going on” racks so I felt nicely balanced in warming up. heh

I waited around for the draw and learned more about the format.  It was a modified 9-ball scoring system; apparently how they do it in Vegas.  It was also a modified single-elimination tournament.  That means that if a player loses in the firsrt 2 rounds, they aren’t out of the tournament – but only during the first 2 rounds and they can only lose once during that time to stay in. 

They also adjusted the scoring.  I, as an SL7, would normally go to 55 points, but in this “short race” format was only going to 48. Thankfully, we had enough 7’s to fill the high skill level bracket, leaving the 5’s and 6’s to battle among themselves, then the 4’s and below had their own bracket as well.  It was a small bracket, only 8 of us.  But, each of them were strong players, some of whom I knew and others I had only heard about.

My first match was against a guy I play with in normal league play.  Our matches are always close, but I was feeling pretty confident about the day (it was still early) so I didn’t sweat it.  I’ve been playing really good barbox 9ball lately and I was hoping to continue to do so.

We finally started around 3:30 or so I guess and I think it went pretty quickly.  I won by more than rack’s worth of points, if I remember correctly.  It was a couple of hours before my next match, against someone I didn’t really know.  I started off doing very well, then the luck changed and he finally quit missing shots.  I battled back and had the match tied at 45 points each, and it was my break.  It was one of the rare times when I break dry, and I left him a fairly standard 1, 2, 3 to win it.  But, something happened.  He made the 1, then the 2 and had a decent shot on the 3.  I set my cue down accepting that I still have a chance on the left side of the bracket. Then he missed the 3 ball!! I couldn’t believe it. It was a pretty standard 45 degree cut, but funny things happen sometimes.  I took a moment to gather myself from disbelief and focus on the rest of the table. I make the 3, the 4 and have a straight in shot on the 5.  I take a deep breath and focus on the shot…. swing… *click* *kerplunk*.  I WON!  I shook my opponent’s hand and could only muster some condolensces; and I wished him well in the rest of the tournament.

About an hour later I had to play my next match.  This was against a guy I play Masters league with but I don’t think he and I have ever played a match.  Still, I’ve seen him play – I know how well he shoots.  I got out to an early lead; 24 to 6 or something.  And I think knowing I was that far ahead got to me, took the pressure off or something.  We started battling for safeties and he was getting more points per rack than I was.  I quit looking at the score and just returned my focus to the table.  He bobbled a 7 ball and I closed the rack to break the next.  I break and make 2 balls (fairly standard for my break) and start to pick it apart.  2 balls in, the table is wide open and I see the out.  I progress 2 more balls and reevaluate – yep, still looking good.  I get to the last 3 and reset myself. I really want this break and run, so I let myself think about it for a second.  Double-check my position route from the 7 to the 8 to the 9.  Make the 7. Double-check it again. Make the 8 and get good on the 9. I take 2 deep breathes as I stand over the shot, get down and ensure everything feels right. I pull the trigger and the 9 drops like it should!  BREAK AND RUN! YES. 🙂 The scorekeeper calls “That’s it!” I turn around quite confused – I still thought I needed something like 5 points – but I was wrong.  I needed 10 at the beginning of the rack, and I broke and ran – that’s 10 points. 🙂 I move on to the FINALS!!!!

Nearly 2 hours later the left side bracket has finished and I play another guy I’ve played with in Masters – ironically, he and I played in the finals of my very first apa-based mini tournament over the summer.  We wait for a mutual table to open up as the TD doesn’t want us to play on any table we’ve played on during the tournament for some reason.  Good idea – bad for time.  We wait nearly another hour for that table.

Whether it was the time or the universe, it doesn’t really matter.  I lost the lag and he breaks and runs until he hangs the 8 in the corner. Uncharacteristic of him, to be sure.  I break and make some balls but am behind a wall of balls and have to kick at the 1.  I leave a good shot and he gets out.  He breaks and runs to the 6 or something, but leaves me hooked – I kick but leave a shot, he gets out.  Rinse, repeat for 3 more racks and I lose the finals in like 20 minutes with a score of something like 48 to 14. 

The only thing I really did wrong was show up.  He couldn’t make a mistake if he tried and I couldn’t ever get going when 90% of the time I came to the table, I was hooked.  He played really well, and my luck throughout the day had finally worn off. 

Still, I took 2nd place in my first ever Top Gun tournament from my 1st ever APA session.  I won some money and I played pretty well for the majority of the day.  Overall, it was a good day and a win nonetheless.  Of course, I wanted to win it all, who doesn’t? And I was really disappointed and frustrated at how the finals went.  My opponent was a super gentleman about it though; he mentioned that he knows pool players at our level never get angry with the other person – only at ourselves.  Which is/was 100% accurate. I wasn’t angry with him, at any point.  I can curse the luck he got, but its still not directly towards him.  I went outside and had a smoke.  Shortly afterwards we had to do pictures (which aren’t online yet).

After that, it was time to have some celebratory shots!  And shots we had. heh I ended the night playing scotch doubles, one-handed-jacked-up 8-ball with the new league operator as my partner against the bar owner and his partner one of his employees.  We took turns alternating a female friend in the rotation so it was sort of a scotch-triples arrangement.  It was a helluva good time and it turns out I can play one handed jacked-up pretty well.