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

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