The Bitter Sweetness of Loss

Last week in APA Masters league, I played as good as I have in a while... until I got WAY ahead of my opponent.  I'll get to that later, first I wanna talk about an exciting break and run I had playing 9-ball:

I won the lag and chose to play 9-ball, even though I have a losing record against this opponent and she's a runout player.  She hadn't put her cues together and I'd been warming up for a good 30 minutes and felt comfortable at the table.  She broke and ran the first rack, but couldn't finish the 2nd rack, which I cleaned up from the 5-out.  Then I broke and found myself with a pretty good spread on the table, as long as I got the correct angle on the 3.  I did not get the correct angle unfortunately - just rolled a few inches too far.  So there I was staring at this layout:

 (the 4-9 was NOT on as it in this layout, see the result for the more accurate layout)

I wanted to play the smartest shot with the greatest reward that was the least risky.  But, considering the easiest shot also came with the most risk with minimal chances for a reward, I chose a different path.  A shot/route that I enjoy shooting and am confident on and I knew that even if I under hit it a little, I'd still be okay on the approaching line after the 3rd rail.  I had to convince myself this was the right shot and I once I did, I fully committed to it - mentally.  Down on the shot, my goal from here simply to "put a good stroke out there".  I threw the cue at the ball and stayed down till the 3 dropped (which didn't take long). Then I stood up and watched the cueball spin around the table fall nicely in dead straight line for the 4. :)

 

 (ignore the 7-ball here, it was made on the break. I just messed up the diagram)

From there I played a simple stop shot on the 5 and had a good angle on the 5.  But, another slight error left me too thin on the 6 and I was forced to come with another good stroke to maneuver around the 9:

 

From there I just rolled up on the 8 to be straight in on the 9.  It sunk in the hole and I felt on top of the world.  I can't remember the last time I broke and ran on the big tables - and I had just done it in an APA Masters match - against one of my toughest opponents!

The next rack I snapped the 9 which put me up 3-1 in a hurry.  We battled a few more racks, but I was continuously taking full advantage of her mistakes and found myself up 5-1.  Me needing 2 and her needing 6.  

That's the worse thing to ever realize.  It was my undoing.  I took the pressure off because "I could afford to make a few mistakes". Wrong. I gave away the next 2 9 ball games and now it's 5-3 going into the 8-ball session.  She broke and ran the 1st rack of 8-ball.  Now it's 5-4 and I'm getting really anxious.  But, she misses a safe in the next rack and I get out with nice bumps.  I break and start my run, but hang a ball.  She missed another safe but I hang the 8-ball for the win, she gets out. 6-5.  I need 1, she needs 2.  She breaks dry, we do some moving, I miss another 8-ball, she gets out. HILL HILL now!  Same as last rack, for the most part.  We're in a bit of a safety battle here and she left this:

I look around for a good safe that I felt confident I could execute, but nothing came to mind.  The only thing that did was to fire the 15 cross-side and get whitey to the center of the table.  It took a while for me to commit, but I did and then I sent it.

IT WORKED!! I was feeling pretty good from here.  I know I was much thinner than I drew it here, because I HAD to send the cue-ball back'n'forth across the table, it was a much thinner cut than shown above, but the point remains the same.  I cut in the 11 and bounced off the 2nd rail to be just a hair off dead-straight in on the 8, but the cueball had come down about the 1/2 diamond.  So, it's a 7-foot almost straight in shot to win the match.  I took a deep breath, committed to stopping the cue ball, which meant a little bit of elevation and swung through.  The cue-ball stopped... the 8 did not.  It doubled the points and ran out to center table, leaving her an easy 3-ball out, which she of course cleaned up.

Afterwards, she commented that it was the best she'd seen me play yet, despite my mental blunders towards the end of the match.  She gave me some more advice and we had some drinks afterwards.

What a swing.  I start off beating her 5-1, and she then beats me 1-6.  This is a strange and cruel game I've devoted myself to. 

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · 9-Ball · League · Stroke

New Seasons, New Shots, New Goals

I've been busy with a lot of new things lately. Chief among them is a new job. I haven't been practicing as much as I was a month ago, and it's showing. That will come around, as I'm still playing better than I was 3 months ago.  New sessions in the APA Masters, NAPA and in-house Cue & Cushion league have all begun. 

The big (sad) news is that I will not be going to Vegas this year with the APA.  We had our Masters LTC tournament last weekend and while I played pretty well, winning 2 out of 3 matches, we just couldn't muster up the rolls and consistency to make it to the top 2 teams after the round-robin was over. That was a little heart-breaking, especially considering how we lost the round.  But, the team we played should do well in Vegas and I'll be rooting for them.

The next day the C&C league began and I'm not sure what happened to me because I lost horribly.  I lost 7-2. I missed the 7-ball or later 5 times, and there were two different 1-9 combos for my opponent.  He might not be a great 9-ball player (I had to give him 2 on the wire to start with), but he's good enough to always get out with 3 balls on the table.  That was heart-breaking as well.

However, last night I sort of avenged myself.  I had to play another A player - even race to 9.  We traded the first 6 racks then he started to catch a gear and won the next 3.  However, I had one of my greatest kick shots in the middle there.

He had missed the 4-ball and rolled into an awkward position near the 5:

 

The 5 blocked my 1-rail kick (I might have draw this wrong, looking at it now), the 5 and 8 blocked the masse and jump, the 9 blocked the other long rail. The 8 blocked the long-rail-to-long-rail 2-rail kick. The 7 blocked the short-rail kick. I was kinda stuck for a minute.  Then I saw it: It's a goofy one-pocket shot: a 3-railer that reverses off the 3rd rail:

 

My kick went a little wide when it bent off the 3rd rail, but I had put enough juice on it to still hit the 4 and barely get a rail.  That kick put me back in the game as I won this rack and the next 2 to tie up at at 6.

Then we tied at 7.  After a mistake on the 2 from him, I ran the rack to get dead straight in on the 9, but the CB was frozen to the rail and I mis-hit it a bit and the 9 hung.  He's on the hill.  Then he makes another mistake on the 5 and I get the rack.  It's hill-hill and he's breaking.  He break dry, hangs the 1.  The 2-9 is available, but hard to get to.  I try it and overrun position, I play a good safe which forces him to kick, he moves the 9... into a better 2-9 location.  With ball in hand, I look at the table and think about running out, since it's a pretty open table, but I decide to shoot the combo.  The 9 drops and I win the match.

Afterwards we joked about how the last 4 racks were more of a contest of who wanted to lose more, since neither of us could run 4 balls if our life depended on it.  We had been playing 2 hours already and we were just fizzling out.

In other new things, this new job has an on-site gym and a health rewards program which I'm excited about starting.  I've gotten rid of Mountain Dew as my primary beverage and switched (back) to water.  I contribute just making that switch to helping me win last night.  Simply being properly hydrated improves brain function.  ;)

Lastly, I've decided to build a new website for all of the local pool scene.  I'm taking this opportunity as a way to upgrade my skillset while also solidifying the techniques I'm learning with the new job.  I've been thinking about it for a long time and now I'm done thinking.  I started coding on it this weekend and have put about 20 hours into it since Saturday already. I'm really excited to get this off the ground. :)

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · League

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