I did a little research this morning and found that the “secrets” my opponent used against me were not really secrets at all. They are described in detail in Philip Capelle’s masterful tome Play Your Best Straight Pool. In the chapter appropriately titled “Safety Play,” he explains several full rack safety plays that can wreak havoc on your opponent. In my 14.1 match on Tuesday, my opponent used the safeties shown below to almost completely stop my offense. He would make a ball or two then leave me frozen to the rack. I did my best to shave the edge of the rack to avoid opening up any balls, but inevitably I would loosen one or two and he would pocket them and then freeze me back on the rack again. Talk about death by paper cuts!
If you want to get better at Straight Pool, I highly recommend Capelle’s book. (I also recommend a huge dose of patience!) For these shots, just hit the cue ball with natural follow, make a full hit on the object ball (the yellow highlighted ball closest to the cue ball), and use just enough energy to make at least one ball go to a rail. These are simple but devastatingly effective shots. If you take 10 minutes to practice these shots whenever you are at the table, you will have a new weapon in your arsenal that you can use when you are feeling particularly nasty. Incidentally, I seem to have more success with the yellow highlighted balls as opposed to the center ball (ball number 6 in the diagram below). I need to spend some time practicing these shots myself.