(Saturday, 7/31) – Yesterday I spent six hours at Universe Billiards and had a great time playing in a ring game and getting in a little practice; however, I didn’t really accomplish my objective which was to put in some serious practice. My plan today was to remedy the situation by putting in about five hours of deep practice, focusing on the shots presented by Bob Henning in his excellent book titled “The Pro Book.” Once again, fate stepped in and altered my plans.
I arrived around 12:30 and grabbed table 18 near the back of the room. Table 18 was my tab le of choice because it provided several advantages: (1) its near the bathroom, (2) it has a great view of the huge big screen TV that’s hanging above the bar, (3) it’s up against the back wall, so it’s out of the way of most traffic, and (4) it has a great view of the other tables in the place. I began by doing some simple warm-ups, and started working on some shots from “The Pro Book.”
After about an hour, I realized there was going to be a 9 ball tournament at 2:00, so I stopped shooting the pro shots, and started working on run outs and pattern play. I wasn’t shooting that great, but decided to play in the tournament anyway. Eighteen players eventually entered. The tournament was formatted with race to 4 matches on the winner’s side and a race to 3 matches on the loser’s side. In my first match, I shot lousy, and lost to Dante 3-4. In my second match, I fell behind 0-2, then fought back to win 3-2. I won my third match 3-0 and my fourth match 3-1. In my fifth match, I traded games with my opponent and ended up double hill at 2-2.
On the case game, my opponent played a safe by putting me up against the end rail with the eight ball halfway up the table. I thought about playing a safety back to him, but didn’t feel confident that I could execute well enough to prevent his subsequent run out. I had to attempt to pocket the 8 ball in the far corner pocket, then either force follow and make the cue ball travel 4 rails for position on the 9 ball, or draw the ball back and kill it on the side rail for a final long shot on the 9 ball. I calculated that the higher percentage move would be to attempt draw shot. I got into my stance, went through my mental checklist, and executed the shot. I hit the shot perfectly, sank the 8 in the far corner, but drew the ball a little too much. The cue ball rolled slowly to the side pocket, almost stopped, then barely made it over the edge and into the pocket. With my opponent getting ball in hand due to the foul, the game and match were over. I ended up finishing 5th out of 18. Not too bad, but somewhat disappointing given that I thought with a little smarter play on my part, I could have won the tournament. Oh well, you live and you learn. Next time, just don’t miss, and whatever you do, don’t scratch!