This past weekend was the 9-Ball Top Gun tournament for the spring session. I was excited to play, but after staying out late Friday night, playing horribly, and having to get up early Saturday to help set up for my sister’s baby shower, I had low expectations for this tournament.
Apparently the unseasonably awesome weather kept a lot of people from attending the tournament, so we had to combine the 5’s, 6’s and 7’s into a single bracket and still only had ELEVEN players. :/ As luck would have it, I drew a BYE the first round. My first match was against the guy I lost to in my first 9-Ball TG tournament about a year ago, but this time I won – pretty solidly too. The score was something like 55-25; but it was more that he kept making silly mistakes and leaving me simple outs (regardless if it was from the break or halfway through, I was moving through the grid with ease). I did get a little scared when I needed 2 and just couldn’t seem to keep my head in it long enough to make a shot; he got like 7 points during this time, until he scratched on the 1 and left me with BIH on the 2, with the 3 sitting right next to it.
My next match was against a guy I’ve only played one other time, in that same TG tournament from above, and I barely beat him then. Luck, it seemed was on his side this match and he won this one 55-43. I had my chances, but just couldn’t quite there. Oh well, I’m still in it; and I’ll get to play a few more matches to stay loose.
I spent a few minutes outside in the lovely weather and recharged while I waited for some food to arrive. Of course, it shows up literally 30 seconds before they call my next match. I just ignore it and go play. I’ve never played this particular guy before but I mostly didn’t care. We were both 7’s so I knew it’d be a long race (and I like those). However, I could NOT get my break to work. I scratched on the break FOUR times, three of them IN A ROW, in a different pocket each time. It’s like I’d adjust a little and the table would take it somewhere else. Still, the guy, again, kept making mistakes and I would fight my way through the rack to stay at the table. I can’t tell you how many 9-balls he missed those times he would actually run out. As infuriating as it was to continue to scratch and have problems with the break, I still never lost my temper. Sure, I’d complain or whine about it, but it wasn’t an angry gesture or tantrum of any sort. I knew I was ahead the whole match and that really helps with the staying calm and positive.
I managed to win that match 55-38 or something like that. Which put my next match against the “killer 5” that put a giant ass-whooping on another 7-friend of mine. The guy had ran 18 in a single inning, so the story goes, and I was eager to outmove him.
But, the 5 that played earlier and the 5 that I played were totally different people. I just played smart and shot everything with confidence. It wasn’t until he got annoyed that I locked him up in a great 3-rail safety half-way through the rack and complained “You’re up something like 31-7 and you play safe?”. I told him: “5’s are too dangerous to give a window to, so I’m not gonna give ya one; nothing personal.” I went on to win that match 55-22 or something. It was during this match that I had overhit the 8 ball and landed so awkardly on the 9 that I was litterally clueless on what to do for a good couple of minutes. Patience is a virtue because then I saw it:
I knew it could go, but I never expected it would go, so when it dropped, I had the biggest grin on my face, the score keeper’s jaw was on the table and my opponent said “Well, shit! I got no chance with that.”
This win put me into the finals and where I would face the guy that had beat me earlier.
I knew we were both happy to be there and that it would be a good and friendly match, but I couldn’t really expect what happened next. He won the lag, broke dry and I had to kick at the 1, he ran out. 0-10 him. He broke dry again and left the 1 on a thin cut, with the 2 hanging in the side pocket next to the 3 on the long rail. The tangent from the 1 to the 2 was nearly automatic, so I thought “Make the 1, carom the 2 and be perfect on the 3.” But I missed the 1, which caused me to miss the carom on the 2. He ran out from there. 0-20. Then the most amazing thing I’ve seen in that bar happened: he broke and ran – TWICE. 0-40. At this point, it’s over and I’m just gonna have fun with it. So I tell him, to keep going, see how many you can get! He broke dry the next rack and I cleaned up that table. 10-40. I broke, made a couple, but the table was a complete mess. I jokingly said “This cool? Wanna just rack ’em?” – which everyone laughed at. The 2 was near the 3rd diamond on the long rail, then the 9 on the middle, and the 3 on the 1st diamond, with the cueball kinda near the center of the table. I played a GREAT cross-bank on the 2, but on the way back up I got bumped to behind the 9 ball and had to kick at the 3 ball. We traded a few balls, but I eventually took the rack. It was something like 15-45 now.
The rest of the story doesn’t matter – I made it to 27 when he finally got his 55th point to win the tournament. I was happy with getting 27 to his 15, and if we had started match from when I was down 0-40, I might have had him; but I can’t spot ANYONE 40 points going to 55. haha
If a tournament can have a theme, then this shot was my theme of the day. It came up THREE times during the day. It’s a stroke shot – but this shot is NOT hit with force. It’s called “doubling the rail” in some books and videos. Here are my three examples of usage:
Everyone should know this shot. It’s tough to do if you’re not used to it. It’s essential that the ball have a LOT of spin, but with almost no speed. Give it a try sometime. I promise, it’s a shot that will get you out of a tough spot more than once.
And lastly, I want to comment on just how well my new attitude is working. Now, granted, I spent the day on the winning side of almost everything so it’s easy to stay positive and chipper. But, it’s such remarkable difference that other people have commented on my new “good behavior”. I never dropped my cue, or tossed it, or slammed balls into the rack, or hammered my chalk down. Not once, all day. With all the mistakes I made, I held myself together nearly perfectly. Once my first loss match was over I was noticeably upset, but I went outside and just relaxed and let it go. I came back in with a singular goal in mind: “Run over everyone and get to the finals.” Of course, that was not the thing I focused on before or during a match. Before I started a match, I washed my hands and told myself to “play smart, be sure, don’t guess and don’t be a hero fighting a losing battle.” It worked like a charm. I took whatever the table gave me and didn’t try to force a bad position. Sure, sometimes I’d let my stroke out more than necessary, but always only when it was totally safe to do so. And that’s really only to keep my back arm loose. I didn’t care who I was playing, or what their skill level was, I was just going to continue to make balls until someone said “That’s it!”. I would play safe 90% of the time when I was supposed to (I took a few flyers, and each time I did, I gave up the rest of that rack; so I quickly stopped that).
Overall, I’m quite happy with my performance. Sure, I’d like to win one, but finishing 2nd twice out of three tries… I’m really happy with that. 🙂