I was never very excited about this tournament, other than the fact the organizer thought I should be included. That’s something at least. In truth, I think the general skill level of the players invited played above me; still in retrospect, I should’ve held my own among them without too much trouble. But what happened was something far worse.
I get to the pool room a little after noon start hitting balls. I’m casually shooting, not really practicing, just trying to get loose; which might have been my first mistake. Shortly after, someone asks to warm up with me, I say sure (as it saves me some quarters). We play 5 games, he wins all 5 in typically 1 inning. I quit and tell him I’m gonna practice some more; which I sorta do. I sit down for a moment and notice the other players, likely my 3rd mistake in less than an hour. Suddenly, I wanted to withdraw from the tournament; felt like cannon fodder for the field. I couldn’t do that, so I just decided to play without expectation, don’t take anything too serious and just have fun with it. It’s a long day of a lot of pool.
The format was 3 flights of 7 players in a round-robin. Everyone would play 6 matchs, races to 3, alternating break and 8-on-the-break doesn’t count. The best rule: Open table after the break, regardless of what suite is made. This is a great setup.
I don’t play the first round (not enough tables) and patiently wait for my name to be called; which it finally was just when I was thinking about getting into some sort of game on the lone 9-foot gold crown. I don’t recall exactly everything that happened, but I know that I missed the 8 in the first rack, and missed a 95% favorite to make shot so terribly I was embarassed in the 2nd rack. This puts my opponent up 0-2, race to 3. He makes a mistake of his own in the 3rd rack and I definitely make it an interesting out, but I get my first game. He eventually gets his 3rd and I’ve lost my first match.
About 10 minutes later I have to play again. This time I play a name I’ve heard in the local arena. Don’t recall anything specific, but if I’ve heard the name, it generally means that name is a threat of some sort. He’s an older guy, and plays super slow. Hyper-examines the table after each and every shot and takes like 45 seconds for his pre-shot routine and 92 pre-strokes. Still… he doesn’t miss and he never takes a chance. Ever. I never had a clear shot at the table, other than the break; which was always iffy. So, as draining as it was to play him, I can’t fault him for his ability. He won 3-0.
I next play a guy I’m quite sure I’ve played or seen around some of the places I used to hang out, but I don’t make anything of it. We played pretty similarly and each of us struggled a bit. I again, would make some really great outs, but get an extra 1/2 inch roll on either the ball I just broke out, or the cue ball and hide myself somehow. Or, I’d just dog the target ball terribly. I should have had at least 2 racks in this match, but I just gave him that one extra chance he needed to finish it up. Lost that match 3-0.
My next opponent was already feeling terrible for losing 2 of his first 3 matches. I didn’t tell him I hadn’t won anything yet. This match was more ridiculous than the previous. Talk about giving chances. I found myself doing the same things over and over … trying to get out on a rack that I would, under normal circumstances, be able to handle, but not that day – and blowing shape or a shot very late in the rack. I walked away from the table and left him a pretty wide open table, now that my balls are out of his way, he’s essentially playing 9-ball with a few balls made on the break. However, was struggled a lot as well, and allowed me to win 2 games. But, my luck would not change and I lost that match on the hill. 2-3.
This set me at 4 straight losses. It was obviously more than impossible for me to finish in the top 2 of my flight to advance to the money round. I thought about just forfeiting my final two matches, but the TD asked that I play them out regardless. I knew that my wanting to get out of there was more about being embarassed about how poorly I played more than just giving up. Still, I just didn’t like the vibe anymore.
I decided to play it out, but I had to wait a while for the other matches to catch up. Eventually, I played another younger guy who, if I were playing on my par would’ve had a good challenge. But, as it turned out, he was having a bad as well, and let me get to the hill again. The last rack when as the first couple went, break, clusters, run a few, play safe, break out, get hooked and watch him run the last few. Lost 2-3.
Immediately after that, my final opponent asks if I’m ready, I say sure and flip. He breaks and runs out. I break dry, he runs out. He breaks dry (or gets hooked, I can’t remember) but I get a shot at the table, but blow it about halfway through, and he cleans up. He was, incidently, the 2nd guy to get picked in the blind calcutta, and another name I’ve heard around town but never met. I lost 0-3.
If you’re counting, that puts me at a match record of 0-6 with a rack total of 5/23.
I hung around for a bit to see who all would advance but shortly decided there’s no reason to stay. I’d already blown $70 on the day between the entry, the quarters and food/drinks and had no more gambling money to put up on the big table; though I wanted to desperately. I spent the rest of the night on the couch, watching tv and/or playing video games.
There’s no real moral of the story here, other than I can’t figure out how to get myself out of a slump. I tried the techniques that worked pretty well in last week’s tournament; and while I never lost my cool (until I started venting on twitter), I also never got my head in the zone. Each time I started to feel in stroke and felt like I was about to turn things around, I’d hook myself. The cloth had been replaced just 2 days prior to the tournament, and every table was deceptively quick. Everyone mentioned how they were getting hooked and overrunning position, so I took some comfort in knowing that it wasn’t just me. However, most everyone else adjusted much quicker than I did.
So, tiny bit of silver lining: I managed to not throw my cue, a ball or slam the rack the entire day. Things to work on for next time: STICK TO MY PRE-SHOT ROUTINE!!!! I forgot to mention this from last week, but so often I start a match doing everything I’m supposed to do, visualize the shot, pick my cb destination, etc; but somewhere halfway through I stop doing that and just go on auto-pilot. Which would be fine … if I were playing on a 10-foot table instead of a 7-footer, it seems. I lose position so often by not visualizing and picking my spot… I can’t even give it a number. *sigh*
Next week is the 9-Ball Top Gun tournament, then 2 weeks off, then Olathe, then Vegas!