I played in a 9 Ball tournament last night at Cuetopia in San Jose, CA, and I was the recipient of a serious butt kicking. The most interesting thing I will remember from the match was not the fact that I lost, which actually is not that unusual, but rather the manner in which I lost. I really didn’t play bad pool. In fact, I really didn’t play much pool at all. Most of my time was spent sitting on a stool watching my opponent run rack after rack. You might think to yourself, “Hey, it’s not all that usual… a great player can sometimes get on a roll, and in a short race to 5 format, you may only shoot a few times… big deal.” Ok, good point. But the fact that he soundly beat me in just a few innings wasn’t what impressed me. It’s how he did it. It’s how he ran the tables. Here are just a few of my observations regarding his style of play that made me sit up and take notice:
- He shot with an extreme sense of urgency. He never took any time to line up a shot or ponder his next position play. He just walked over to the cue ball, immediately bent down, stroked once or twice, fired, stood up, and walked to the next cue ball position, sometimes even getting there before the cue ball did. Then he would repeat his version of the hurry up offense. I began to wonder if he was really an open heart surgeon from a nearby hospital. I can hear the discussion now: “When will the ambulance get here?” “In about 10 minutes, doc.” “Great! There’s this pool tournament across the road at Cuetopia…I’ll be back in 10 minutes!” Hummm…I wonder.
- He never once applied draw to the cue ball. Not even when, IMHO, a draw shot was by far the easiest option for getting proper position on the next ball. It took me a couple racks to even notice this, since his position routes were so quick, seemingly careless, and completely natural. I finally picked up on this odd characteristic on one particular shot in the third rack, in which a draw shot was so obviously the right shot to take that even a beginner looking at the shot would think, “Damn, I wish I knew how to draw the ball”… yet my opponent didn’t draw it… instead he opted for a one rail follow with slight right spin.
- Virtually every shot my opponent took was a center axis stroke with follow. No draw. No spin. Yet on every shot, he ended up exactly where he wanted to be. Simple. Seemingly effortless. Totally natural. DAMN! That’s nice!
I think I even dreamed about this last night. My opponent’s performance reminded me of a portion of Gary Frerking’s December PoolSynergy post, in which he reviews a DVD by Mike Sigel. Mr. Sigel talks about simplification… eliminating variables… making your game more repeatable. Over the next week I’ll toy around with the concept of using only natural angles and controlling cue ball position with nothing but distance control. Certainly not as easy as it sounds, but wouldn’t it be nice to only have two variables (seeing the natural angle and hitting with the correct speed) you have to control?