The Third Rack – Dennis broke and left a spread nearly identical to his break in the first rack. Although I was in a tough position, the up side was that I had seen it before and could learn from my earlier mistake. I shot a ticky and got the cue ball directly in front of his hole. He didn’t have a shot, so he came off the long rail on my side of the table and put me back against the stack. At that point I started my new strategy: Look for a stop shot anywhere on the table that would allow me to leave the cue ball up against another ball. For the next 7 or 8 innings, that’s all I did: Stop-Kiss. Stop-Kiss. Stop-Kiss. I was trying any trick possible to not allow Orcollo to get a clean shot. Then, Orcollo made a mistake and left me in the following position (my pocket is the one on the lower left):
I saw the bank shot immediately, but knew it was a risky proposition. If I missed, Orcollo would run out for sure. If I made it, I would get my one ball. Was it worth the risk? I stood in-line with the shot for a minute debating the merits of taking the shot and quickly realized my decision boiled down to three key facts: (1) Orcollo was the best player in the world, (2) there’s no way I could out-shoot him or out-maneuver him in the long run, and (3) in three matches, this was the very first time I had had any chance to make a ball. If I was ever going to take the risk, now was the time.
I studied the shot, got into position, stroked three or four times, then ‘felt the magic’ and let the shot go. “Click.” I stroked the cue ball with a little low right, stopped it about 10 inches off the rail, and the object ball rolled perfectly into my corner pocket; nothing but net! Yipee! I had made my first ball, but better yet, had position on several others. I forced myself to slow down and think (and breath) before each shot, fighting my natural tendency to rush. When I was done, I had pocketed 6 balls and had left Orcollo frozen again against another ball. I sat down and realized I was up 6-0 in game 3. Mission accomplished!
3 innings and 3 safeties later, Orcollo left me in this position:
I know this sounds crazy, but when stood up behind the cue ball and looked at my position, I immediately saw a reverse bank shot off the ball near the side pocket. Not makeable, you say? A risky shot only a fool would take? I wasn’t sure about the shot either, but I had already accomplished my goal of making one ball, had already lasted much longer than in my first two games, and now I was free-wheeling. Sure, why NOT go for it?
A couple months prior to the tournament, I had developed an analytical method for calculating reverse bank shots. I’ll explain the methodology in a future post, but suffice it to say, here’s what I had to do (according to my algorithm) in order to make the shot: I had to stroke the cue ball with about 3 tips of right (basically as far as you can go without miscueing), the cue stick slightly elevated, and about a 1/6th fraction hit on the object ball. Yes…crazy! But here’s the craziest part…IT ACTUALLY WORKED!
The object ball came off the long rail with pocket speed and didn’t even hit the jaws of my pocket as it made its way in. The cue ball wasn’t moving that fast but was spinning like crazy when it came off the long rail. The cue ball went two rails and came back across the table for perfect position on my final ball. (Ok, to be honest, I didn’t plan that one). I walked down table to take my final shot, but Orcollo waved me off and conceded the game. VICTORY!!!!!
I honestly don’t remember any details from the rest of the match. I think Orcollo got spooked (who is this unknown guy?) and he completely changed his playing style. Over the next hour or so in racks 4 and 5, I never saw another makeable shot. I tried to stretch the match as long as I could, but it was no contest. Afterwards, he complemented me on my play, and that by itself was worth the price of admission. Yes, now I’m hooked on One Pocket!