PoolSynergy is a monthly collection of some of the best writing in pool. The host of this month’s PoolSynergy topic is Johnny, a pool player who lives in St. Louis, MO. This month he asked each of the PoolSynergy writers to discuss the game that we like the most. I decided to write about playing against the ghost. If you want to read articles from the other PoolSynergy authors, visit Johnny’s blog here. Hope you enjoy!
Playing Against the Ghost
“I have met the enemy, and the enemy is me!” – Walt Kelly (paraphrased)
To improve your game, you need some competitive experience… you need to find someone who can challenge you, someone who can push you to the edge of your abilities, expose your weaknesses, and make you yearn to improve. I’ve found that player…and it is me. When I get serious about working on my game, I often get a table in a quiet corner of the pool room, and play against myself… and take notes. Playing against yourself is often referred to as “playing the ghost.” There are many ways to play the ghost. The most extreme version goes like this: you choose a game to play, like 8 Ball or 9 Ball, and play against yourself in a race to 7. Typically, you break the rack, take ball in hand after the break, and try to run the table out. If you run out successfully in your first turn, you win. If you don’t run out for any reason, the ghost wins. You can take notes on why you lost position during the run, or what shots you missed, and work on these aspects of the game in a later practice session.
That is the traditional view of “playing the ghost,” but that version is only successful as a training and motivational tool if you already have the capability of running racks. What if you don’t yet have the skills needed to run the whole table? There are other versions of “playing the ghost” that ARE within your reach, regardless of your skill level, and I present two versions here. Each of these games does not require any specific skill level, and can be enjoyed by all players. An added benefit of these games is that they can be used to measure your current playing ability and monitor your progress as you continue to improve your game. I’ve also provided a scale for each so that you can compare your scores with other players whom have played these games. This can help you get a sense of where you are today, and where your performance could be in the future. I hope you enjoy!
Game: “Equal Offense”
Rack all 15 balls and break from anywhere in the kitchen. After the break, spot any balls that are pocketed. Take ball in hand in the kitchen on your first shot and pocket balls in any order you choose. This is a call shot game, slop doesn’t count, and each ball pocketed earns you 1 point. Assuming you don’t scratch or miss a shot, keep shooting until you get to the last ball, then stop and rack the 14 balls already pocketed. Now try to continue your run by pocketing the 15th ball and simultaneously using the cue ball to break open the rack, just like in 14.1 straight pool. If you manage to pocket the 20th ball, the inning is over. If you miss a shot or scratch at any time, the inning is over.
After 10 innings, add up your scores and compare your performance with the following chart provided by Tarl Roger Kudrick at the Internet Equal Offense site. You can use this chart to get a general idea of how you stack up against the rest of the pool world. Good luck, and have fun!
|If your typical score is||You’re probably better than THIS percentage of pool players||If your typical score is||You’re probably better than THIS percentage of pool players|
Game: “10 Ball Rating Game”
Rack up 10 balls and break from anywhere in the kitchen. Any balls made on the break count as one point. If you scratch on the break, pocketed balls are spotted. After the break, start with ball in hand anywhere on the table on your first shot, and run the balls in rotation. All balls made are one point. If you miss a shot, the rack is over. Shoot 10 racks and count the total number of balls made. After 10 racks, take your total and compare it to the chart below. This is a good game because it takes several skills into account (shotmaking, position play, cluster breaking, break shot skills, etc.) The only downside is that it doesn’t cover safety play, which is a critical in the upper echelons of play.
So, those are my favorite two games. If you want to read articles from the other PoolSynergy authors, visit Johnny’s blog here. Good luck, and happy shooting!