This weekend I played in the annual 3-man tournament. Normally this is an APA sponsored event, but due to outside circumstances they were not involved in this one. The only difference was the prize money was significantly diminished. The rules of the 3-man is each team fields at most 3 players per round. Each round is won when one team wins 2 matches. Each match is detemined by traditional APA score/races. The combined skill level limit is 15 per round. My team consisted of 2 teammates: Chris and Dennis, SL5 and SL4 respectively (in 8-ball). So, our team had the max limit with my being an SL6.
We played our first match Friday evening, against team also stacked with a 4, 5 and 6. We play our 5 first, they match it with their 5. It was a 4-4 race and we quickly got up 2-1 in the score. Unfortunately, that’s as far as we got and they took the first match 4-2. Then it was my turn. I fulled expected to play their 6, but no, they put up their (very strong) 4 against me (a 6). So, the race is 5-3. I blew the first one, then got the next 2, making the score 2-1. Something happened and I self-desctructed, losing the next 2 games. So, I lose 2-3, our team loses the first round. I was seriously furious both with my play and the fact they low-balled me in the matchups. I get it’s a strategy that exists, but you just don’t expect to have to deal with it in such a friendly league environment. But, whatever; it happened.
We return early Saturday morning at 11 to start the 2nd round. We pull another 4,5,6 team and each of our 4’s start the day. We win the first match and our 5 is up next, they put their 6 on him. We got some rolls and end up winning that match 4-3 (in a 4-5 race). So we win the 2nd round.
Our next matchup is against a 4,4,7 team. They start with one of their strong 4’s, we play our 5. Chris (our 5) plays the best I’ve ever seen him play and wins 4-1. The throw their 7 and so I go up. This is a 5-4 race. I get the first rack, then have a little meltdown and my opponent gets the next 3, so the score is 4-1; he needs one, I need three. Halfway through a rack, he plays a safe and I have to kick at a ball in the middle of the table. Out of frustration, I eye-ball a pretend angle and fire the CB into the long rail. It smacks the 5ball dead into the side pocket! That was the shot that changed the entire day for me. The gods change the layout of the stars and each time I think my opponent is about to runout, he makes a mistake. And I get the game. Even if I made a mistake, when he returned to the table, he’d make another mistake. It was insane. I actually win the match 4-4 (he needed 5). So we win the 3rd round!
Next we play a team of good friends of mine. They are a 7, 5 and a 2. I heard there was some fairly serious debate on their side as to how to play us. We lost the flip and put up our 5, figuring we still have a skill-level on either side to match them. But, they play their 7 against our 5. We lose the first match, then they throw their 2 likely expecting our 6 (me) to play next, leaving our 4 against their 5. We but play our 4 against their 2 and win that match. So it all comes down to me and their 5. Now here is where I finally remember how to play pool. After losing the lag, I don’t miss another shot. Their 5 runs the table, gets in trouble, plays a bad safe, and I run out. Rinse, repeat. I win the match 5-0!!! We are now in the semi-finals after winning round 4!
Now we play the team that beat us the first round. The the same set up. The 5’s play, we lose, then I play their 4 – but this time, I play like I just did. I broke dry once and she ran out like a champ, so she did get a game, but I won 5-1! Now it comes down to our 4 playing their 6. I think the day was just too long for our guy, as he kinda fell apart, but at this point we had been there for about 9 hours – much longer than these guys are used to playing. So, we lose in round 5, end up in 3rd place. The payouts were a little top-sided; but enough that we got our entry fee (and the quarters for the games) back. Only 10% of the pot to split between the 3 of us.
Overall, we were really happy to make it that far. And for me, personally, I think I finally figured out my 8-ball game. I’ve been playing 9/10 ball for so long that I have been playing 8-ball a lot like 9-ball. Somewhere around mid-day I started playing 8-ball. Blocking pocket-safeties, picking the correct patterns and finally getting a natural and subconscious feel for speed control. I would’ve loved to play anyone in the building, but we didn’t get to play another round.
The team we lost to, both times, went on to take 2nd place. Normally, I’d suggest they were supposed to win it all from there, but someone had a little too much liquid courage and it affected their judgement so they lost hill-hill in matches. Oh well. The full brackets are here: